Civil Rights in Nevada
On February 11, 1959 Governor Grant Sawyer signed a proclamation designating that week as Black History Week in Nevada. During the American bicentennial of 1976, Black History Week became Black History Month – a tradition that continues over thirty years later. In honor of Black History Month and in celebration of the achievements and contributions of African-Americans in our state, the ONE has created a Civil Rights in Nevada exhibit.
The exhibit captures unique images from the struggle for Civil Rights in Nevada, while the captions highlight the voices of historic Nevadans who lived through and experienced the era. For greater context and entries dedicated to the people and events seen in the exhibit, please visit ONE’s collection of articles on African American History and Civil Rights.
This exhibit was created in partnership with a variety of projects and archival repositories and is just the first stop in a tour of Civil Rights history in Nevada. A majority of the images and text have been provided by the University of Nevada Oral History Program (UNOHP). Their project, Nevada Voices, brings to the public transcripts, audio excerpts, photographs, context statements, and brief discussions about three major topics – including the Civil Rights Movement – from over 80,000 pages of transcripts. Much of what you find in the ONE exhibit is developed in much greater detail on their website. We strongly recommend reading the more complete interview transcripts from which we have taken our excerpts. Also, UNOHP has books on the Civil Rights experience in Nevada – more specifically Hang Tough!, which details Governor Grant Sawyer’s years with state and national politics, and Fighting Back: A Life in the Struggle for Civil Rights, which is a memoir of James B. McMillan’s life fighting against racial discrimination. Both books can be found at the UNOHP bookstore.
The ONE exhibit also benefits from materials provided by the Oral History Research Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the Special Collections Departments at the University of Nevada-Reno Library and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. There is information to be found on the memories of people who lived in Las Vegas in the early years, women who were Las Vegas showgirls, and a group of friends who experienced school desegregation in Las Vegas in 1964 (Rose Hamilton & Friends).