Many people may be surprised to learn how prevalent outright racism and racist laws (de facto and de jure) were in the Northern and Western United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. In fact, when Illinois became a state in 1818, slavery had already existed in the territory for over a century, and continued in the salt mines in the far southern counties after statehood was established.
Illinois' Black Codes were put in place in 1819, including laws that denied Black people the right to vote or testify in court, required all Black people to have certificates of freedom, and banned all Black migration to Illinois. The Illinois Black Codes were officially repealed in 1865 due in large part to the work of John Jones, a Chicago tailor, ardent abolitionist, and first African American Cook County Commissioner.
And, after 1890, over 70% of Illinois towns and cities with more than 1,000 residents were Sundown Towns -- including Naperville, which was a Sundown Town for over 80 years. (According to blackpast.org, "Sundown Towns are all-white communities, neighborhoods, or counties that exclude Blacks and other minorities through the use of discriminatory laws, harassment, and threats or use of violence. The name derives from the posted and verbal warnings issued to Blacks that although they might be allowed to work or travel in a community during the daytime, they must leave by sundown.")
Learn about all this and more at Naper Settlement's free online exhibit, Unvarnished: Housing Discrimination in the Northern and Western United States
They also invite you to visit Naper Settlement’s onsite companion exhibit
that examines Naperville’s Unvarnished history through October 28, 2022, in the Museum Visitor Center. (This exhibit is included in museum admission.)
Pizza & Social Justice (one of our TiBA Presents
sponsors) is planning a "field trip" to the Naper Settlement to view the Unvarnished
exhibit. Several board members and friends are planning an informal visit on Saturday, September 3, meeting at the museum at 2pm. For details, contact Nancy McKee at 630-341-9334.