Glendale Leads California in Publicly Apologizing for Its ‘Sundown Town’ Past

Photo: SevenMaps (Shutterstock)

By Anne Branigin,

Glendale, where less than 2 percent of residents identify as Black, has become the first California city–and the third in the nation—to publicly apologize for its racist history, with the city council unanimously passing a resolution this week addressing its history as a “sundown town,” a term applied to places that barred Black people from being in city limits after dark.

The resolution is seen among activists and council members as an important first step in addressing larger issues of systemic racism in the city.

“[The city] has that legacy and it makes sense to address that head-on,” Glendale City Councilman Dan Brotman said, adding that the resolution commits local officials “to look at how we conduct affairs in Glendale and look at how racism may be playing a role…”

Tara Peterson, an organizer for the Coalition for an Anti-Racist Glendale told NBC Los Angeles there was value to acknowledging what the city once was, but also articulating its current values and its plan to address and redress its problems going forward.

“It’s extremely empowering and makes a community feel like they can come together and now we can think about healing and reconciliation,” said Peterson…

As the LA Times notes, despite its reputation as a progressive vanguard for the rest of the country, California was historically home to at least 100 “sundown towns”—a name derived from signs that used to appear on city borders warning Black people to stay away once the sun set…

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