News & Events

The UNLV University Libraries has been awarded a $99,716 grant to partner with Vegas PBS to produce a documentary, African Americans: The Las Vegas Experience, with accompanying curricular materials. The grant is administered by the Nevada State Library and Archives under the Library Services and Technology Act through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent federal agency.

This unique project will team Vegas PBS’s creative production department with expert faculty from the UNLV University Libraries to weave together a compelling narrative about Las Vegas’s rich African American history. Drawing from the extensive historical collections of the UNLV Libraries Special Collections, the documentary will feature oral histories, photographs, letters, and other materials that tell many stories about the African American experience and their context in Southern Nevada.

Claytee White, Director of the Oral History Research Center at the UNLV University Libraries, explained, “I hope the documentary will reach new audiences and spread understanding and interest in our region’s African American history.” Beginning in 2012, White led a collaborative of nine organizations to collect, preserve, and make Southern Nevada’s African American history more accessible. As a result of this project, over 75 oral histories, 11 video interviews, 900 photographs, and 500 documents are now available online in the web portal, Documenting the African American Experience.

The proposed documentary will shape this collected historical evidence into personal, relatable stories. Vegas PBS estimates the documentary will reach over 100,000 local residents through broadcast or online delivery. In addition, Vegas PBS will segment the documentary into teachable clips, correlate them to state K-12 standards, and prepare a curriculum guide for using the clips in K-12 classrooms.

Vegas PBS General Manager Tom Axtell stated, “Engaging our community through collaborative partnerships is a shared strategic priority. We feel the African Americans: The Las Vegas Experience documentary will connect a wider audience to our local African American history and its relevance to Nevada’s broader history, culture, and sense of place.”

The day to celebrate the creation of this portal about the history of African Americans in Las Vegas is about to begin. Director Claytee White and Project Manager Barbara Tabach took a moment to sigh with pride as they eagerly await the press event in the morning and a community event in the afternoon. Hours of work and the efforts of too many people to list here is to be applauded. We will post more about this day soon—after the official click.

Vegas PBS and CCSD’s Equity and Diversity Education Department held a Teacher Event on October 7 at Chaparral High School. Keynote speaker was Dr. Sonya Douglass Horsford (shown here), a highly regarded scholar on education and a member of our Community Advisory Board. Her presentation, Freedom Struggle for Equal Education, 1968 – 1994, provided a local context to desegregation and integration of Clark County School District during that time period. The afternoon also introduced a new PBS series, The African Americans with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., to begin locally airing October 22. To learn more about the six-part history series click here:  http://www.vegaspbs.org/many-rivers-to-cross-teacher-event/

The milestone March on Washington was commemorated with two local Las Vegas distinct events both containing a call to action. You may wonder why after 50 years a call to action is even necessary. Although progress is acknowledged by most speakers, blacks in America still have a lower household income and a higher unemployment rate. So economic inequality is still present and still devastating in its reach. But let me take you to the march and rally at 8:00 on Saturday morning August 24, 2013. I arrived to find a few cars in the Doolittle Center parking lot. People slowly gathered and formed groups chatting with friends.  A preacher from the neighborhood hawked Travyon Martin tee shirts for ten dollars each. Soon the organizers arrived, a prayer was spoken and instructions given. The symbolic walk started. And to my surprise, no police presence was evident. TV cameras, the local black press, and a vehicle to help anyone in distress followed the long line. The solemn pilgrimage of blacks, whites and Latinos proceeded for about a half mile to the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Carey where the King statue stands. At 9:00 the rally began with words of wisdom, rallying cries for economic change, and thanksgiving because we have come this far not just by faith but by striving for the best through hard work, studying, and listening.

I sat in the shade at the rear of the assembly as I watched two firsts – two political families with two generations of elected officials – the Goynes and the Neals. Pamela Goynes-Brown and her father Theron Goynes from the North Las Vegas City Council and Dina Neal and her father Joe Neal from the state Assembly; both daughters serving currently with fathers who paved brilliant paths.  We have come a very long ways.

On the official anniversary of the march, August 28, 2013, I found myself at the Ebenezer Church of God In Christ (CoGIC). It was surprising how alike the demands read on August 28, 1963 by Bayard Rustin are to the ones read on that Wednesday evening in Las Vegas. Rustin read: We demand comprehensive and effective civil rights legislation from the present Congress – without compromise or filibuster- to guarantee all Americans access to all public accommodations, decent housing, adequate and integrated education, and the right to vote; Withholding of Federal funds from all programs in which discrimination exists; Desegregation of all school districts in 1963; Enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment reducing Congressional representation of states where citizens are disfranchised; A new Executive Order banning discrimination in all housing supported by federal funds;  Authority for the Attorney General to institute injunctive suits when any constitutional right is violated; A massive federal program to train and place all unemployed workers – Negro and white –on meaningful and dignified jobs at decent wages; A national minimum wage; A broadened Fair Labor Practices Act to include all areas of employment which are presently excluded; and A federal Fair Employment Practices Act barring discrimination by federal, state, and municipal governments, contractors and by employers.

In the North Las Vegas Ebenezer Church of God in Christ the August 28, 2013 reading stated:

1.Comprehensive and effective civil rights legislation from Federal, State, and Local lawmakers to guarantee all Americans a) the right to vote b) quality education free from racial discrimination c) access to jobs/work without discrimination and d) access to equal justice.

2. Enforcement of the 14th and 15th Amendments, title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Fair Employment Practices Act, and a broadened Fair Labor Standards Act that addresses employment disparities nationally.

3. Workforce Development Plans implemented where employment and disparities exist in Nevada.

4. Passage of the National Minimum Wage Act currently before Congress, that will provide for livable wages to all Americans.

5. End racial profiling by passing Federal and State legislation banning it, and creating more community oversight and accountability in local law enforcement.

6. Dismantle the “school to prison” pipeline and privatization of the prison system.

7. Remove policy/practice in education that targets and disenfranchises students based on race.

8. More oversight and enforcement by the US Attorney General in instituting injunctive suits, when any constitutional right is violated.

9. National jobs bill.

10. Economic freedom; beyond jobs to community economic enrichment.

Now the question is: Where do we go from here?

~Claytee D. White

During this past year of organizing the African American Collaborative, a series of three Town Hall Meetings were hosted at the West Las Vegas Public Library. The meetings introduced community members to the project, encouraging participation as narrators and sharing of personal photos and other memorabilia. The success of this project will be increased by the contributions materials and memories such as these.

Shown here is Jarmilla McMillan-Arnold, longtime resident and daughter of the late Dr. James McMillan, and also a Community Advisor. Jarmilla assisted at each of the gatherings by demonstrating the value of knowing and understanding African American contributions to Las Vegas history.

Patricia Iannuzzi, Dean of UNLV University Libraries, and Claytee White, Director of Oral History Research Center (OHRC), welcomed guests to a remarkable panel discussion at Lied Library on May 5 to honor the 10th anniversary of OHRC.

The panel included attorneys Booker Evans, David Phillips, and Kathleen England, and was moderated by Rachel J. Anderson, Associate Professor of Law at William S. Boyd School of Law. The panel reflected on the contributions of the local African American legal community and shared their personal experiences and observations to an enthralled audience. [Photo L-R:Phillips, Anderson, White, England and Evans]

Berkley Square celebrated its National Register Historic Places recognition on February 9, 2013, with the unveiling of banners. Here Courtney Mooney talks to the media that day. Courtney is a member of the African American Collaborative and the Historic Preservation Officer from the City of Las Vegas Department of Planning.

News & Events

The UNLV University Libraries has been awarded a $99,716 grant to partner with Vegas PBS to produce a documentary, African Americans: The Las Vegas Experience, with accompanying curricular materials. The grant is administered by the Nevada State Library and Archives under the Library Services and Technology Act through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, an… Read more

 

The day to celebrate the creation of this portal about the history of African Americans in Las Vegas is about to begin. Director Claytee White and Project Manager Barbara Tabach took a moment to sigh with pride as they eagerly await the press event in the morning… Read more

 

Vegas PBS and CCSD’s Equity and Diversity Education Department held a Teacher Event on October 7 at Chaparral High School. Keynote speaker was Dr. Sonya Douglass Horsford (shown here), a highly regarded scholar on education and a member of our Community Advisory… Read more

 

The milestone March on Washington was commemorated with two local Las Vegas distinct events both containing a call to action. You may wonder why after 50 years a call to action is even necessary. Although progress is acknowledged by most speakers, blacks in America… Read more

 

During this past year of organizing the African American Collaborative, a series of three Town Hall Meetings were hosted at the West Las Vegas Public Library. The meetings introduced community members to the project, encouraging participation as… Read more

 

Patricia Iannuzzi, Dean of UNLV University Libraries, and Claytee White, Director of Oral History Research Center (OHRC), welcomed guests to a remarkable panel discussion at Lied Library on May 5 to honor the 10th anniversary of OHRC.

The panel… Read more

 

Berkley Square celebrated its National Register Historic Places recognition on February 9, 2013, with the unveiling of banners. Here Courtney Mooney talks to the media that day. Courtney is a member of the African American Collaborative… Read more