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.’

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.