Home » Illinois » Salem

James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

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

Salem

Illinois

Basic Information

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

Sundown Town Status

Confirmed Sundown Town?
Surely
Was there an ordinance?
Don't Know
Sign?
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
1860
1870
1880
1890
1900
1910
1920
1930
1940
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990 7470
2000 7909 7682 57
2010
2020

Method of Exclusion

  • Reputation
  • Other

Main Ethnic Group(s)

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black

Comments

email 4/2008

The black family seemed to be a frequent topic around our house. The daughter was “made” to go to the nearby town of Centralia for school. My grandparents and my mother always said it was wrong to make her go there. I had no idea why she didn’t go to Salem schools except that she was black. Now 50 years I understand why. I never knew that Salem was a”sundown town”!

“It would have beena surprising day in my HS when I didn’t hear ‘nigger’ five or six times.” And it isn’t just blacks. A gay student came out, and he was thrown down a flight of stairs that day, and got spit on later. (Former Salem student, 2001)

I heard they went as far as to burn a cross in their yard. This was right around 1980-81. I remember people would try to exclude them or flat out ignore them. For instance ,we were having some family night deal at the Jr. High and they had games in the cafeteria. I remember the mother of this family being a proud women, obviously educated, and people were making remarks about the daughter playing one of the games calling her a coon. (2006)

“While visiting Salem in high school, somewhere between 1995-2000, our band director was told to put any of our band members who were black in the middle of our band line up. So that the white children were on the outside, and then people wouldn’t throw things at or say bad things to the black students as we walked by.” -Email from nearby resident; March, 2012