|Type of Place||Independent City or Town|
|Metro Area?||Independent City or Town|
|Politics c. 1860?||Don't Know|
|Unions, Organized Labor?||Don't Know|
|Sundown Town Status|
|Confirmed Sundown Town?||Probable|
|Year of Greatest Interest|
|Was there an ordinance?||Yes, Strong Oral Tradition|
|Sign?||Yes, Photo or Written Evidence|
|Still Sundown?||Surely Not|
|Tell Dr. Loewen More About This Town|| |
|Method of Exclusion|
|Private Bad Behavior;Realtors|
I was born to a working-class family in Darien, CT in 1951 and spent most of my life up into my late 20's there.
It was well known -- though never spoken of above a whisper -- that no-one could sell a house to either a black family or a Jewish family.
One Jewish family moved into Darien sometime in the early '60s and one of the daughters was in my class. The first black -- or actually mixed race -- family moved into a neighborhood almost on the Stamford-Darien border right about 1970. I became good friends with them since the son belonged to an amateur theatrical company I was a member of and around that time I also joined the Baha'i community that the family belonged to. As I recall, the children was mercilessly hounded by the high school ruffians and this is probably why they moved out of Darien
within a year or so.
I believe there were some neighborhood kids (15-17yo - ish) and they banged on the door and ran. The bag had excrement in it - the intent being that you step in it as you stomp out the fire.I also seem to recall (we are talking about 35 yrs ago so I am a bit foggy on it) that the family said they had alot of calls with hang ups. I think Burt (the son) was accepted in school since he was very charming and athletic - but also I am sure for the sheer novelty of this tall dark skinned afro-ed young man in our midst! For what its worth: after my early lack of exposure to "persons of color" in my hometown, I have enjoyed working for 20 yrs in an environment (public housing) that is very racially mixed; my first husband was Jewish, plus my son-in-law is bi-racial. I didn't emerge from Darien tainted with prejudice or bigotry. Except maybe against the nouveau-riche and yuppies that now populate the area!
Laura Hobson's bestselling novel, "Gentleman's Agreement" and the Elia Kazan film adaptation released the same year, made Darien, Connecticut, a sundown suburb of New York, briefly notorious in 1947 when it publicized the town practice on not letting Jews spend the night.
Email from a longtime resident:
"I lived there for 16 years, definitely still a sun down town."
Email from a longtime resident:
"Darien is an overwhelmingly white town, and although the residents generally know this, they don't actually understand the implications. Growing up, kids would joke about how this kid or that would be the "only black kid" in the class, but obviously this wasn't actually dissected, nor were we ever taught to think critically about the issues going on in our own area.
I don't know much about the Jewish community in Darien, but I would think the stigma would be different in Darien. I can remember one boy being called "(His Name) the Jew" by a lot of students...and the Jewish kids in any given class were definitely never the majority, or even equal with the Christian/vaguely-religious..." students.
Email from 2009:
"My mother is a real estate broker, and she is sure that Darien is no longer a sundown town..."|