• Do Sundown Towns Still Exist In America?

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    INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY TO AIR SPECIAL PRESENTATION OF A FILM THAT EXPLORES WHETHER THE SUN HAS SET ON THE EXCLUSIONARY PRACTICE OF SUNDOWN TOWNS IN MODERN-DAY AMERICA

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    - “THE INJUSTICE FILES: SUNDOWN TOWNS” Encores on Sunday, August 24 at 10AM ET / 9AM CT -

    In the wake of the death of an unarmed black teen by a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, the question has been posed as to whether or not the town was in fact a former “Sundown Town.” In the 20th century, these all-white communities excluded African-Americans, who were not allowed to live there or even visit after the sun set.

    In the fourth installment of Investigation Discovery’s (ID) anthology THE INJUSTICE FILES, investigative filmmaker Keith Beauchamp takes a cross-country road trip to explore whether these exclusionary practices still exist today. Produced exclusively for ID by Al Roker Entertainment, THE INJUSTICE FILES: SUNDOWN TOWNS, ID will air a special presentation of the film on Sunday, August 24 at 10AM ET / 9AM CT.

    This method of exclusion was often held by an official policy or restrictive covenant. The practice of excluding blacks from American towns was so prevalent that, by 1936, it became the impetus for Harlem civic leader Victor Green to pen the Negro Motorist Green-Book, a guide designed to help African-American travelers avoid places where they could be harassed, threatened, or even killed. Today, it is illegal for sundown towns to exist on paper due to the 1968 Fair Housing Act, but some believe that communities remain sundown by reputation and reluctance to diversify.

    “In light of the growing drama in Ferguson, I hope this film draws attention to racial discrimination cases that deserve closure and inspires viewers to push for progress on civil rights issues that are affecting their hometown communities,” said Beauchamp. “When we set out to film THE INJUSTICE FILES: SUNDOWN TOWNS, my objective was to challenge the opinion that sundown towns still exist in America today. Now having visited communities that were historically known as sundown towns, I am left with the sense that rules may have changed by the book, but towns still exist where the social standard hasn’t been reset.”

    Beauchamp explains that sundown towns are largely a northern phenomenon born from how African-Americans in the region typically made their living. Work largely consisted of daytime domestic responsibilities and thus nightly curfews were created to encourage African-American workers to leave town promptly at the end of their shift. In THE INJUSTICE FILES: SUNDOWN TOWNS, Beauchamp travels to three historically-sundown towns in Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio, and comes away with often shocking information.

    ABOUT KEITH BEAUCHAMP

    Beauchamp found his calling as a filmmaker through his documentary about the story of 14-year-old Emmett Till, who in August 1955 was abducted and tortured to death because he whistled at a white woman. Suspects were arrested for the murder, but they were all acquitted by all white juries. This story of a young boy, who was beaten, shot, and thrown in a river, ignited the early civil rights movement. Decades later, the case was re-opened by the FBI because Beauchamp uncovered new information, bolstered by his ability as a filmmaker to reach deep into the communities where these crimes occurred and connect with potential witnesses who otherwise might not come forward. Since his experience making The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till, Beauchamp has become passionate about seeking justice for these families and assisting the FBI by developing new leads for some of their unsolved cases from this troubled chapter in American history. For THE INJUSTICE FILES, Beauchamp combs through records; interviews family members, witnesses and investigators; and pieces together the known facts of each case. Beauchamp attempts to interview potential suspects and individuals who may know who was responsible for these murders, sometimes confronting them in their driveways after attempts to contact them for interviews prove unsuccessful.

    THE INJUSTICE FILES: SUNDOWN TOWNS is produced for Investigation Discovery by Al Roker Entertainment with executive producers Al Roker, Keith Beauchamp, and Dan Bowen. For Investigation Discovery, Lorna Thomas is executive producer, Sara Kozak is SVP of production, Kevin Bennett is general manager, and Henry Schleiff is Group President of Investigation Discovery, Destination America, and American Heroes Channel.

    For additional information on Keith Beauchamp and the towns visited in the special, as well as photos, please visit THE INJUSTICE FILES: SUNDOWN TOWNS Press Web page

     

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