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AP Road Trip: Racial tensions in America's 'sundown towns' |

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AP Road Trip: Racial tensions in America's 'sundown towns'

VIENNA, Ill. (AP) — In an America struggling over questions of race, police brutality, and justice, the AP Road Trip team made its second stop in a Midwestern town to look at an open secret of segregation that spilled across much of the nation.

In Vienna, Illinois, almost no one talks openly about the violence that drove out Black residents nearly 70 years ago, or about how it became one of hundreds - perhaps thousands - of ‘sundown towns.’

  • The moon shines through clouds along a highway in New Columbia, Ill., near Vienna, Ill., on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. "Sundown towns" like Vienna were places where Black people were allowed in during the day to work or shop but had to be gone by nightfall. Today, some still exist in various forms, enforced now by tradition and fear rather than by rules. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
  • Dusk settles over Anna, Ill., on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. "Sundown towns" like Anna were places where Black people were allowed in during the day to work or shop but had to be gone by nightfall. Today, some still exist in various forms, enforced now by tradition and fear rather than by rules. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
  • A 1967 portrait of a Milton L. McDaniel Sr. sits on other photos and newspaper clippings of him when he was younger, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, in Carbondale, Ill. After graduating from high school and getting injured while playing basketball, he went to work on the railroad in southern Illinois. He says, as the only Black man on a full crew, he was often discriminated against, being turned away from restaurants in some towns known as "sundown towns," while his white coworkers were served. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
  • Milton L. McDaniel Sr. attends a service at Boskydell Baptist Church, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, in Carbondale, Ill. McDaniel spent decades working as a railroad engineer in southern Illinois. He says as the only Black man on a full crew, he was often discriminated against, being turned away from restaurants in some towns known as "sundown towns," while his white coworkers were served. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
  • A girl is immersed in a smartphone game while others play in an arcade at a skating rink, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020, in Anna, Ill. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
  • Bill Stevens, 76, stands in The Gunsmoke Club Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in West Vienna, Ill. This is a deeply conservative part of the nation _ 77 percent of the county voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 elections; just 19 percent went for Hillary Clinton. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
  • Mailboxes line a street in Jonesboro, Ill., on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
  • Trump supporters Jim Rainbolt 57, left, Rick Warren, 65, Bill Stevens, 76, and Roger Plott, 65, stand outside The Gunsmoke Club Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in West Vienna, Ill. Their clubhouse, a few miles outside Vienna, is an old gas station, later turned into a convenience store and now a gathering place for a dozen or so friends. It's part workshop, part bar, part informal store. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
  • Doris Miller 86, left, adjusts her cap after getting off the back of a motorcycle belonging to Jeff Bundren, 60, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, in Vienna, Ill. This is a deeply conservative part of the nation _ 77 percent of the county voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 elections; just 19 percent went for Hillary Clinton. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
  • A "Dead End" sign is posted on the far end of 7th Street in Vienna, Ill., on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. There was a small collection of houses along 7th Street, near where the outer edges of Vienna bumps up against Little Cache Creek. Everyone who lived there was Black. Today, the settlement is an overgrown field. The street once led to a small bridge that crossed the creek, but the sign stands as a warning so no one tries to cross a bridge that isn't there anymore. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
  • Takiyah Coleman 19, who organized a Black Lives Matter protest poses for a portrait in Anna City Park, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in Anna, Ill. "Sundown towns" like Anna were places where Black people were allowed in during the day to work or shop but had to be gone by nightfall. Today, some still exist in various forms, enforced now by tradition and fear rather than by rules. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
  • Victoria Vaughn, second from right, 17, a student at nearby Marion high school, poses with her grandmothers, Nancy Maxwell, second from left, and Vickie Higgins, right, and her aunt, Janae Maxwell, left, during a rally for racial justice held in support of the biracial students at Vienna high school in Vienna, Ill., on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020. Vaughn, who is biracial, grew up visiting Higgins in Vienna, Ill., on the weekends and over the summers and noticed when people would stare at her in the grocery store or walking around town. (AP Photo/Noreen Nasir)
  • Doris Miller 86, tends to her makeshift store selling Trump souvenirs in front of her home, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, in Vienna, Ill. This is a deeply conservative part of the nation _ 77 percent of the county voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 elections; just 19 percent went for Hillary Clinton. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
  • Nicholas Lewis holds son, Nick Jr., near their home in Vienna, Ill., on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020. Nick Jr.'s grandmother, Maribeth Harris, says "It's our sanctuary," of the street where they live. One of her daughters lives next door. Another lives across the street with her boyfriend, Lewis. Three grandkids live with her while Lewis takes care of the fourth. Harris, her husband and their daughters are white. Lewis says, "I feel scared or just even strange going around to the store, because I know all eyes are on me." (AP Photo/Noreen Nasir)
  • The sun sets over a field outside of Anna, Ill., on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. "Sundown towns" like Anna were places where Black people were allowed in during the day to work or shop but had to be gone by nightfall. Today, some still exist in various forms, enforced now by tradition and fear rather than by rules. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
  • Rick Warren 65, poses for a portrait in The Gunsmoke Club Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in West Vienna, Ill. "I've had Black friends. I've had Black babysitters. I had Black people who took care of me through my childhood," he said. But the easygoing race relations of his youth were lost, he said, when President Lyndon Johnson, who pushed through some of the most important civil rights legislation of the 20th century, "came along and turned it into a bunch of racial bullshit!" (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

These towns were places where Black people were allowed in during the day to work or shop but had to be gone by nightfall. Today, some sundown towns still exist in various forms, enforced now by tradition and fear rather than by rules.

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