African American History Culture : What are 'sundown towns'? Historically all-white towns in America see renewed scrutiny thanks to 'Lovecraft Country'

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What are 'sundown towns'? Historically all-white towns in America see renewed scrutiny thanks to 'Lovecraft Country'


It’s a term that seems to be popping up everywhere on social media, especially since the release of Jordan Peele’s HBO series Lovecraft Country, based on a 2016 novel of the same name by Matt Ruff but inspired by a 2005 book called Sundown Towns by sociologist James Loewen. In Peele’s onscreen depiction, the main characters are “pulled over by a police officer who informs them they are in a ‘sundown county’ and then threatens to lynch them unless they can leave the county before sundown.”



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Jonathan Majors stars in the new HBO series, Lovecraft Country, which has been prompting discussions about so-called sundown towns in the U.S. (Mary Mathis for the Washington Post via Getty Images)

Jonathan Majors stars in the new HBO series, "Lovecraft Country," which has been prompting discussions about so-called sundown towns in the U.S. (Mary Mathis for the Washington Post via Getty Images)
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