This is an installment of an extremely irregular series that I write when I begin to remember people from my childhood. I grew up, for the most part, in Hackett, Arkansas, just about nine miles south of Fort Smith, Arkansas, almost on the border with Oklahoma. This was quite the “redneck” part of the nation.
Hackett, when I was little, still had a sunset law on the books. Those of you not from the South may not be familiar with such a law, but they were real (and likely still are on many books, but obviously not enforceable any more). Essentially, a sunset law dictated that any black person (NOT the term used at the time) could not remain in the town after sunset, to prevent black families from moving into the town.
The penalty was, at least in my town, that being black and there after sunset was not just an offense, but a shooting cause, both by citizens and law enforcement. I report this not to titillate, but just to illustrate how many southern jurisdictions were run until recently, and some still are.