Transcript of interview with Alice Key by Claytee D. White, February 17, 1997


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Transcript of interview with Alice Key by Claytee D. White, February 17, 1997
Material Set
White, Claytee D.
Interview with Alice Key conducted by Claytee D. White on February 17, 1997. Dancer, writer, and community activist, Key served as Deputy Labor Commissioner for the State of Nevada and leader of the NAACP in Las Vegas. As a newspaper reporter, she exposed the separation of blood plasma according to race in World War II. With Bob Bailey, Key created the first all-black television show in the nation and a radio program, interviewing black entertainers in a talk-show format.
Alice Key is a renaissance woman. She has been a dancer, writer, community activist, and a Deputy Labor Commissioner for the State of Nevada. She counts Joe Louis, Lena Horne, and Paul Robeson among her close friends. Alice spent her youth cushioned from some of life's harshness by her family, and yet they elevated her social consciousness to prepare her for adulthood. On the day of her high school graduation, she left Riverside, California, and moved to Los Angeles where she enrolled in journalism classes at UCLA. Fascinated by the glamour of the entertainment world, she became a chorus line dancer at the Cotton Club in Culver City, California, where the line of dancers was all black and the audience was all white. The club's proximity to Hollywood allowed the dancers to acquire small parts in Hollywood movies, to meet show business personalities, and to travel throughout the world as entertainers. When Key's dancing career ended, she became a newspaper writer in Los Angeles and later Las Vegas. The story in which she expressed the most pride exposed the separation of blood plasma according to race in World War II. Key's political activism began when she danced at the Cotton Club. She learned dancers were paid according to the rating of the clubs. The Cotton Club's rating was a 'B' while similar clubs with white dancers were rated 'A.' This system ensured that blacks earned less. Alice protested to the union. She moved to Las Vegas in 1954, one of several professionals who would become leaders in the Las Vegas civil rights movement. Her voter registration drives and ability to get the voters to the polls produced friendships with many Nevada politicians. She eventually led the NAACP in Las Vegas. Key combined her journalistic background with her interests in culture and politics when she and Bob Bailey created the first all-black television show in the nation. Key interviewed black entertainers in a talk-show format. They followed that enterprise with a radio show. Alice Key's account of Las Vegas entertainment and civil rights provides important insights of the post-war era in Las Vegas.
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F850.N4 K49 1998
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Original Date (interview)
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This material may be protected by copyright. Personal, including educational and academic, use of this material is without restriction; but acknowledgement of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, University Libraries is requested whether the use is oral, web or in print. Commercial use of any portion of this material requires permission. For further information please contact Digital Collections: This document is an oral history. It is a spoken account of certain events and phenomena recorded at one particular moment and filtered through one individual's life experience, sensibility, and memory. As such, it should be considered a primary source rather than a final, verified, or complete narrative of the events it records.
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University of Nevada Las Vegas
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2404 x 3172 pixels; 8.0 x 10.6 inches; 23,185,632 bytes; 106 images
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24 bit color; 300 ppi

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