Home » Michigan » Livonia

James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.



Basic Information

Type of Place
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Unions, Organized Labor?

Sundown Town Status

Sundown Town in the Past?
Was there an ordinance?
Don't Know
Don’t Know
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Probably Not, Although Still Very Few Black People

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1870 1,679 0
1930 3,192 5
1950 17,534 17,513 21
1960 66,702 66,562 32
1970 110,109 109,659 41
1980 104,814 103,215 108
1990 100,850 98,870 265
2000 100,545 95,975 951

Method of Exclusion

  • Realtors
  • Unknown

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


As of the 2000 census, Livonia is the whitest big city (over 100,000 people) in the county.

In the early 1970s, Livonia lost $1.5 million in aid
provided by the Office of Housing and Urban
Development, because the city refused to create low-income housing. Mayor Edward McNamara was quoted as saying “HUD is trying to force us to create ghettos within our city, and that we are not going to do.”

In 2003, The City of Livonia contracted with the Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit to provide more equal housing. The center assisted in three cases that involved allegations of racial discrimination against African Americans.

“When Deano Ware and his family decided to move out of their integrated Detroit neighborhood, they chose the whitest city in America: Livonia. “Ware, who had studied segregation as a Michigan State University student, wanted a city that was just starting to integrate, where the schools are good and property values strong. “But Ware said he was surprised by the stares and looks he and his family sensed as he drove through tree lined neighborhoods, and the remarkable number of homes he asked about that already had offers. In the end, he gave up on Livonia…”Real estate brokers [in Livonia] rather effectively
conveyed the idea that blacks were not welcome. “The odd looks alone were not enough to deter Ware. ‘Then our Realtor – who was not European-American – kept saying they were racist and we should try
Southfield or Redford,’ he said.”-“Livonia mirrors area’s barriers to integration”, The Detroit News, 27 January 2002

A six year old, attending a showing at a movie theatre in Livonia, was approached by men who poured red soda on her and yelled racial insults.

According to a lifelong Detroit resident who works in Livonia, “we had so many of our [black] men stopped by the police that our manager went to the police chaplain… We took down license numbers of squad cars following blacks to our parking lot.” This did not stop the racial profiling, which was still ongoing as of 2004.

According to a school teacher in Livonia, “I am in my tenth year teaching at the school, and when I began, the African American population at the school was about 4%. This year our population has gone up to 24%. In fact, the Fair Housing people settled a lawsuit just a couple of weeks ago against a landlord in the Clarenceville District preventing Black tenants in his apartment complex.”

A resident of Michigan still believes that African Americans are not “allowed to live in Livonia. He explained: “I have personal experience searching for a home to buy in the area in 2006. When we inquired about homes in Livonia, we were directed back towards “better options” in Redford and Southfield. Around that time the Mayor made statements concerning a Wal-Mart being built in the city that they didn’t want to attract Detroiters (i.e. African-Americans since Detroit is 80% black).”

April, 2013 email from a longtime resident: “I’ve lived in Livonia for 11 years, and I can tell you honestly that Livonia is well known all over the Metro area for being incredibly racist. There’ll be black people moving in that get warnings and the like to move out- families that move out within a few months. Most people in the area know of the notorious “driving while black” infraction, where the police force will pull people over and arrest them for no reason other than they were driving through town, and black. At the high school I attended, not only were there literally no black people of authority there, but the only people that would get in trouble for being in fights or otherwise infracting upon rules, like dress code, were black teens.”

Email from September 2011: “Recently was named The Whitest City in America. Other cities have higher white populations but I believe, as do a lot of people, that it got this title because of the city being mostly white and being a suburb so close to Detroit. Inkster is close to Livonia and was the suburb Henry Ford helped setup for black workers to live in while working for Ford (headquartered in Dearborn). Inkster has a population that is around 70% African American.”