Black Truck Driver Tells Horrifying Story of His Night in a 'Sundown Town'

A Black truck driver shared the story of his night in Vidor, Texas, a notorious "sundown town."

Sundown towns are all-white parts of the United States considered to be unsafe for Black people after dark. The term goes back to segregation-era signs that said "colored people" had to leave by sundown, but continues to describe communities that retain a wholly or predominantly white population by systemically keeping out minorities.

Vidor was a haven for the Ku Klux Klan in the 1990s. When a federal judge ordered the county to desegregate public housing in 1993, the KKK held rallies in Vidor, prompting Texas Monthly to run a cover story calling it "Texas' Most Hate-Filled Town." Vidor is 98.4 percent white and 0.1 percent Black, according to census data.

"Colored" drinking fountain
The term "sundown town" goes back to segregation-era signs that said “colored people” had to leave by sundown. Above, a "colored" sign over a drinking fountain in Halifax, North Carolina, in 1938. Buyenlarge / Contributor/Archive Photos

"My night in a sundown town," Black truck driver Gideon captioned a video about his stop-over in Vidor. His TikTok from May 3 has been viewed over 875,000 times.

The trucker explained that he was delivering a load to the area.

"I get there and I look at the exit," he said. "I'm like, 'Wait a minute.' It took me to Exit 861A. For those who don't know, it's a place called Vidor, Texas."

Gideon said he had heard stories about the town.

"Pretty much everybody I know in Texas that's Black tells me, 'Do not go to Vidor, Texas.'"

Still, it was about 5:30 p.m. and his load did not deliver until 8 a.m. the following day. While driving to the company destination, he saw "a bunch of Confederate flags" and "a doll of a Black man wrapped in a Confederate flag hanging from a tree by his neck."

When Gideon got to the site, he heard a security guard alerting co-workers to a "code red." On a phone call, he said the guard could be heard saying that he did not want to "be responsible for this guy's safety" because "we stop taking loads at 4 o'clock."

Shortly after, another man arrived and quickly unloaded Gideon's truck. He told the driver, "Dude, you might want to get up out of here as soon as possible, we're at sundown, you want to leave here now. Don't stop until you at least get to Beaumont."

Gideon asked whether there were police in the area, but the man told him that "police turn a blind eye."

The driver took his advice and headed to Beaumont, where he slept with a rifle.

Below Gideon's video, several people who said they were Black Texans said his story wasn't news to them.

"Soon as you said Texas I knew it was Vidor," said one comment. "I'm from Houston and we're taught as kids to never stop there."

"That's the first thing they told me when I moved to Texas. Don't go to Vidor," added another.

A third viewer exclaimed, "So in 2022 we still need a greenbook for safety!"

The Green Book was published between 1936 and 1966 by New York City travel agent and mailman Victor Hugo Green. The book advised Black drivers of areas to avoid for their safety while traveling in the United States.

Newsweek reached out to Gideon for comment.