Texas city haunted by 'no blacks after dark' past

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Vidor is a small city of about 11,000 people near the Texas Gulf Coast, not too far from the Louisiana border. Despite the fact that Beaumont, a much bigger city just 10 minutes away, is quite integrated, Vidor is not. There are very few blacks there; it's mostly white. That is in large part because of a history of racism in Vidor, a past that continues to haunt the present.

"We've been trying to live down something for 40 to 50 years," said Orange County Commissioner Beamon Minton. "Once convicted, you're a convicted felon. You can't ever put that aside."

Vidor was one of hundreds of communities in America known as "sundown towns," places where blacks were not welcome after dark. In some of these towns, signs -- handwritten or printed -- were posted, saying things like "Whites Only After Dark." But in general, sundown towns existed by reputation. Blacks knew they were places to avoid after dark.

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Ray Whitener - 12/23/2006

Having seen the practice during the late 1960's, yesterday at a Christmas party, I mentioned a sundown incident to a group of younger men and women; that I was let in after dark when the merchant saw the color of my skin

It is sad to say that much is left to do.