LatinaLista — An interesting story from Texas’ Rio Grande Valley surfaced today. It seems that in 1931 there was an ordinance created in Edcouch, Texas that divided the city into two sides: the American side and the Spanish side.
Border town, Edcouch, Texas’ water tower at sunset.
For anyone of Mexican or Spanish descent who wanted to work as a domestic servant, the ordinance was written to clarify who could cross into the American side from the Spanish side — keep in mind that the Spanish side was still within US boundaries and where Mexican-Americans lived.
The ordinance said: It shall be a misdemeanor for any such person (of Mexican or Spanish descent) to occupy any building on the American side either as a business or a dwelling except as a servant or a maid in the home and any person violating this would be fined no less than $1 and no more than $100.
Longtime residents of Edcouch attest to growing up in a segregated town until 1968 when the town’s high school students marched out of school to protest discrimination. From that time on, things changed in the border town — except that people forgot about the ordinance, until on Cinco de Mayo.
Finally, 77 years after it was first put on the books in Edcouch, the ordinance dividing the town was repealed. Though it was more of a symbolic gesture than anything, the repeal was significant because it put an official end to such racial practices.
To James Loewen, Edcouch fits into what he terms “Sundown Towns,” towns that divided, and some which still divide, their residents along racial differences.
According to Loewen, university scholar and author of Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, these towns still exist.
These are towns or suburbs where people of color are made to feel unwelcome, and even experience racist violence in the form of property vandalism or worse.
Whereas before, this “domestic racism” has been able to thrive below the radar and in very subtle ways, the candidacy of Barack Obama in this election is forcing the race issue in bedroom communities across the nation that have never had to deal with it before.
Loewen is continuing his research into Sundown Towns and is appealing for help in his research and a start to holding towns accountable for their racist agendas through legal actions.
Sundown Towns, like the Edcouch ordinance, deserve to be relics of the past — not of the present.