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James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

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

San Leandro


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?
Don't Know
Don’t Know
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Surely Not

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1930 11455 4
1940 14601 5
1950 65962 17
2000 77631 37639 9493 140 30360

Method of Exclusion

  • Threat of Violence
  • Police or Other Official Action
  • Private Bad Behavior

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


In 1969, Newsweek ran a story on the “Forgotten White Majority”, which included an discussion between three white men at an auto body shop. The men are of the opinion that only a violent revolution will solve racial problems, and one says “We should have a Hitler here to get rid of the troublemakers the way they did with the Jews in Germany.”
“My family moved here to hostility in 1972. We were, to my knowledge, the first black family in the
Washington Manor area. Growing up, I knew that there was resistance and racism.
“According to the 1970 census, San Leandro was 99.4% white. Oakland at the time was 44% black. Then city councilman Joseph Gancos told the
Morning News ‘Our city is not a white spot by accident.’ Indeed.
“In May of 1967, the United States Commission on Civil Rights held hearings in San Francisco to determine exactly why this racial disparity existed. Then Mayor Jack Maltester testified how he tried to set up a human rights commission in the city and how the city council backed him – until word got out to the papers.
Residents called their councilmen and pressured them to reject it. When it came time to vote, only one councilman was brave enough to join Maltester, thus killing the measure….
The mayor also testified in response to a question on discrimination against Black renters that apartment owners had told him that if one Black moved in, every other tenant would move
“Throughout the 1950s and 60s, San Leandro’s ten homeowners associations, which represented nearly two-thirds of all property owners, colluded to restrict the presence of Blacks in the city.
The associations decided who would be on the city council and pressured council members to reject any proposal that would make it easier for
people of color to locate here. The associations also made certain that member homeowners agreed not to sell their homes to Blacks. Realtors maintained ‘gentlemen’s agreements’ not to show homes to Blacks.” — Brian Copeland, pioneering black resident of San Leandro and author/star of “Not A Genuine Black Man,” long-running one-man show.
Another pioneering black family (moved to San Leandro in 1970) reported that once, when their 18-year-old son was driving the family Buick, the
San Leandro police department phoned. The police had seen the car with a young black man driving and had assumed it had been stolen. On New Years Eve 1980, the family was awakened by a brick through the kitchen window and a cross burning on their front lawn. – Erik Bailey, former African American resident of San Leandro, 2005.
San Leandro had such a strong reputation for white supremacy that in nearby, racially mixed Oakland, it was known as “Klan Leandro”. However, today the city is very diverse.