Race and Reckoning in Forsyth County

1912-2020

Sundown Towns

After a white supremacist mob intimidated Black schoolchildren on the banks of Lake Lanier in 1968, a WSB-TV reporter interviewed Cumming citizens about the incident. Among his questions: "Do you think Forsyth is a county for whites only?" Courtesy of Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, WSB-TV newsfilm collection. Note: this video contains language that some may find harmful.

Sundown towns are white communities that intentionally prevent Black people (and sometimes other racial or ethnic groups) from residing there. Most sundown towns were created and enforced by mob violence. However, powerful whites established others by organizing “buyout campaigns” that made it too expensive for most Blacks to own homes and restrictive covenants that banned property sales or renting to Black people. In many cases, local whites even posted signs warning African Americans not to remain in town overnight. Oral evidence suggests that such a sign may have once stood in Forsyth County, though no documentation has been identified. James W. Loewen, a leading researcher on sundown towns, identified Forsyth County as one of the South’s most notorious examples of the phenomena.