To recognize Black History Month, The Mob Museum will host “Celebrating Black Life in Las Vegas: Honoring the Past, Shaping the Future.” African Americans have played an integral role in the development of Las Vegas since at least the 1940s.
With stories punctuated by accounts of painful challenges and hard-earned triumphs, the panel discussion will involve individuals who lived through the highs and lows of the African-American experience in Las Vegas, as well as those who document and preserve that history for future generations.
The panel also will discuss the HUNDRED (Historic Urban Neighborhood Design Redevelopment) Plan, the city initiative to redevelop the historic West Las Vegas neighborhood. The Mob Museum will provide a livestream of this presentation on its website.
- Claytee D. White is the inaugural director of the Oral History Research Center for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries. She collects the history of Las Vegas and the surrounding area by gathering memories of events and experiences from longtime residents. As one of five founders of the Las Vegas Black Historical Society Inc., she chronicles the history of the Las Vegas black community established in 1905.
- Brenda Williams is the president of Westside School Alumni Foundation. As a trailblazer in Las Vegas, Williams integrated the city’s banking industry in 1963 as well as the workforce at the State of Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles in 1966. She also holds the distinction of being the first Black female appointed to the Las Vegas City Council when she took on the role of interim city councilwoman in Ward 5 in 2007. In 2019, Williams also became the first Black female member of the Las Vegas Planning Commission.
- David Washington retired as fire chief department director for Las Vegas Fire and Rescue after 33 years. Washington was the city’s first Black fire chief where he guided the department to many major accomplishments. Washington has been involved in many community organizations such as the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, I Have A Dream Foundation, Camp Brotherhood/Sisterhood, Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute, Communities in Schools, United Way of Southern Nevada, New Ventures Certified Development Company, Black Business Council of Nevada, Economic Opportunity Board and many more.
- LaVerne Ligon is a former dance captain for MGM Grand’s “Hallelujah Hollywood,” the Las Vegas Strip’s first all-Black line of showgirls. After the MGM Grand fire in 1980, “Hallelujah Hollywood” was reworked into “Jubilee.” Many members of the “Hallelujah Hollywood” cast segued to the new show, including Ligon. After retiring in 1982, Ligon opened Simba Talent Agency, a dance school for at-risk youth. Ligon will be appearing virtually, however, interview opportunities are still available.
- Shakala Alvaranga, director of public programs, The Mob Museum.
Wednesday, Feb. 17
7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The Mob Museum – In the Historic Courtroom on the second floor.
300 Stewart Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89101