Sundown past influence explored by nationally recognized author - Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Sundown past influence explored by nationally recognized author

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The Land of Lincoln has a checkered history, even in Central Illinois, with racism and exclusionary practices.

Metamora, Pekin, and Peoria Heights are just some of the 500 communities in our state identified by a national expert on the subject as Sundown Towns, where minorities were discouraged and sometimes prohibited by local, past laws from being in a given town or city after sunset.

Dr. James Loewen offered his his thoughts Tuesday on why it took more than 10 days for Metamora Township High school district leaders to take decisive action after the inflammatory video made by some white freshmen football players was then sent to a black teammate.

 "So if they can kind of keep it under the rug, then under the rug it goes. So, I'm not surprised. But I think it's too bad. It's not going to solve the problem. It sounds like Metamora is moving toward a solution," Loewen said, after school leaders held a lengthy news conference Tuesday, vowing to bring change and help the school community unite. 

He added three steps are key for city or town leaders to move past problems with or incidents that display racism.

1. Admit that it happened.
2. Apologize for it.
3. Take concrete steps - with consequences - to prevent recurrence.

Dr. Loewen even feels President Donald Trump has given life or legitimacy to white supremacists and overt racism in America.

"What we have to do, those of us who live in the country, in this United States, we have to combat this at every turn. And we have to combat it in Metamora too," Loewen said.

He adds that he is now in great demand nationwide to speak about Confederate war era statues, for example.

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