Home » Michigan » Wyandotte

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
Perhaps, Some Oral Evidence
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1870 2,731 0
1880 3,531
1890 3,817 0
1900 5,183
1910 8,287 2
1920 13,851 10
1930 28,368 9
1960 43,519 10
1970 41,061 18
1990 30,938 73 7
2000 28,006 146 35

Method of Exclusion

  • Violence Towards Newcomers
  • Reputation

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Eastern European

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


Wyandotte has not had any significant black
population for most of its history. A number of
blacks who moved in during the early 1910s were
driven out in 1916. One man was killed. Another
expulsion occurred in 1917, following a strike at
the only business in town with black employees.
The local paper frequently noted through the 1920s
that black residents were not welcome in town.
During World War II, the government attempted to
locate a housing project for black war workers in
Wyandotte, but the city government refused.

“I was told about the alleged benefits of ‘sundown’
laws by my relatives as I was growing up.
[Wyandotte residents] felt that Wyandotte, being the
first town south of Detroit, was impelled to hold the
color line.
“I do know that Wyandotte’s extreme racism was
well known around Detroit years later, I’ve met
people from the South who migrated to Detroit who
knew about Wyandotte’s policies. Elizabeth Park
was notorious in the African American community
in Detroit.
“A family that tried to move into Wyandotte in the
early 1950’s (the closest I could pin down was
around 1952 53), after several weeks of hazings
and warnings and escalating threats, were killed
and found floating in the Detroit river.”
-posted to the web, 2001

“My husband was born and raised there, and I recall
my father in law (now deceased) once mentioning
that there used to be a sign at the city limits that
said ‘No Negroes allowed.'”
-posted to the web, 2002

“It is difficult to get an authoritative account of
Negro animosity in Wyandotte. A search for
authentic records reveals that very few if any facts
have been recorded. The only fact available is the
existing evidence that Negroes have never been
allowed in Wyandotte for any length of time.
“The policy popularly pursued to enforce the ‘tacit
legislation’ (no Negroes in Wyandotte) is to
approach the ‘stray’ Negro and abruptly warn him
that a welcome mat is not at the gates of the city.
This quiet reminder hastens the negro’s footsteps
with no further action. The other method is a
general unity of action of all Wyandotte citizens in
not renting or selling property to Negroes, refusing
to serve them in stores and restaurants, and not
hiring Negroes in places of employment.”
-from “Wyandotte History; Negro”, undated but
written before 1954

According to a resident of Michigan, “As recently as 2003, when visiting friends in Wyandotte, the friends would make sure we were out town before dark.”

A resident who has moved to Wyandotte recently said, “while the main population is white to this day, integration is definitely happening here. I’ve noticed more African Americans here than other communities like it, as well as Latinos. I have a very diverse group of friends, and many of them have visited me at my home. No one has mentioned being uncomfortable here or having any poor experience with my neighbors or other people in Wyandotte.