Sundown Town to “Mexican Town”: Old-Timers and Newcomers in Small Town America

Eileen Diaz McConnell, Arizona State University
Faranak Miraftab, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

For more than a century, communities across America employed aggressive strategies to remain all-White. A widespread practice was that of “sundown towns,” places that signaled to African Americans and others that they were not welcome within the city limits. Drawing from diverse qualitative and quantitative sources, this paper presents a case study of a small Midwestern community. The study documents the community's sundown history, current responses to rapid Latino population growth occurring within its boundaries, and the present spatial distributions of the town’s Latino migrants and white residents. Local housing characteristics and regulations of land use and zoning may partially account for this latter outcome. The results are informative for considering how analyses of Latino population growth in “new” areas, whether metropolitan or non-metropolitan, might be strengthened by exploring linkages between their racialized historical contexts, current racial and ethnic social dynamics, and spatial configurations.

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Presented in Session 164: Immigrants in Old and New Destinations