Home » Illinois » Pekin

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
Independent City or Town
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Unions, Organized Labor?

Sundown Town Status

Sundown Town in the Past?
Was there an ordinance?
Perhaps, Some Oral Evidence
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
1900 8420 8413 4
1910 9897 8
1920 12086 31
1930 16122 1
1940 19,407 0
1950 28,858 4
1970 31375 31316 0
1990 32,254 31,982 26
2000 33,857 32,434 863 5
2010 34,094 32,285 710 19

Method of Exclusion

  • Reputation

Main Ethnic Group(s)

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black
  • Asian


In 2000, 707 of the 863 blacks are male, mostly 18-44. 5 households with a total pop. of 16.

In 2006, Pekin High School switched to a different athletic conference, primarily so its teams would not have to play interracial teams from Peoria. A series of incidents involving white racist taunts, etc., had marred football and basketball games when Peoria teams journeyed to Pekin. Most if not all teams in the new league are from sundown towns.

A Pekin student to a student from Peoria Manual: “Go back across the river, nigger!”

“We have friends who live in Pekin, and they don’t want us to drive through alone. We were over there, and it got dark, and they followed us out of town to make sure nothing happened to us.” (A black resident from a different town in 2004)

The EEOC visited Pekin in 1991 to investigate alleged job discrimination by several businesses including Pekin Insurance.

The Pekin High School mascot used to be the “Chinks” but was changed following pressure by Chinese Americans groups.