Soul to Soul March 26th 2022

The following is special
programming sponsored by public

radio K u and v 91.5. The
content of soul to soul does not

reflect the views or opinions of
91.5 Jazz and more, the

University of Nevada Las Vegas,
or the Board of Regents of the

Nevada System of Higher
Education.

This is soul to Seoul radio show
that is a free for all of

positive energy 830 On the
fourth Sunday morning, here at

KUNV. I am clay Teef white.
Today, we're gonna talk about

one of these areas that I always
list. I say we're going to talk

about history and books and
music and politics. Today is

history. It is the African
American or the black experience

here in Las Vegas. Last time, I
stopped at the end of 1949. So

today I'm going to talk about
the 1950s 1949 ins with Jim

Crow, in full regalia. All of it
all of Jim Crow. Blacks live

only on the west side, cannot
enter the casinos downtown and

on the strip, unless you're
working a job in the back of the

house, or you an entertainer.
Financing for houses are almost

non existent. There are many
occupations that are closed to

black Americans. But the
migration continues. Blacks come

by car, and all kinds of other
modes of transportation. The

Nevada Test Site beginning in
the 1950s, began to apply began

to employ African Americans,
women and men in various job

categories. When Viola Johnson
arrived in 1942, jobs were

available to most black women as
domestic work. That was the work

in the back of the house. That's
what I mean by the back of the

house, you are cleaning hotel
rooms, working in linen rooms,

those kinds of activities, or
you are Porter cleaning the

casino floors. Depending on the
gaming establishment 10 to 14

rooms had to be cleaned in an
eight hour shift. But there was

no ironing cooking, childcare
and all of the other domestic

work that black women had done
for years and years. In small

towns like for ice, Arkansas, to
Louisiana, small places in

Mississippi towns throughout the
South. But now there was an

added component. late 1940s,
early 1950s, these African

American women became members of
the culinary Workers Union,

local two to six, giving them
more power, giving them more

opportunities, more benefits,
better health care. So things

were looking up, even though we
know that Jim Crow was that

period of time where blacks did
not have the rights that they

deserved. Still we see progress.
Let me tell you how Viola

Johnson described what it was
like here when she came in the

1940s. Seven of this lived in
this one room tent, my mother,

dead stepbrother, uncle, cousin,
daughter and myself. It was

awful living there. It was so
hot. When I arrived. They said

it never rained. But one time it
rained so hard. We all got under

the table, the only dry spot in
the tent. The men work different

shifts at basic magnesium
Incorporated. So when they were

sleeping, others were at work.
Some of us were asleep outside

under the trees. We cooked on a
two burner oil stove on the

inside, and a huge woodstove on
the outside about 15 feet away

with our neighbors and another
tent. So that's how African

Americans lived. During that
heyday of the migration. It

changes somewhat, as black
families began to build houses.

And in the 1950s, things began
to change even more. So let's

get into the 1950s Lucille
Bryant came from Talulah,

Louisiana. I got here on the
fourth of October in 1953. My

cousin Gladys was going to the
Algiers hotel, when I got here

that morning to quit her job,
because she had found a better

one. So she said, you want to go
with me? And I said, Yes, we got

there. And I asked the
housekeeper, do you want

somebody to work today? And she
said, Yes. And took me upstairs

and showed me the rooms and what
had to be done. When that lady

left the room, I got on my knees
and gave God thanks $8 a day and

working in the shade. And to
Louisiana. Lucille could earn

maybe $5 a week, sometimes a
little more. Now, as we talked

about last week, in the 1940s,
we talked about African

Americans migrating not just
working blue collar workers, but

the whole gamut of the African
American community migrated to

Las Vegas. First black doctor
came in 1954, Dr. Charles eye

West. Prior to Dr. West, there
was a chiropractor named Dr. Da.

He had arrived in the 1940s, the
first black dentist 1955, Dr.

James B. McMillan, first black
attorney in 1959. Charles

Keller, and I'm going to return
to Charles Keller at the end of

my presentation today, because
he does not arrive until 1959.

The mid 1950s, though, we get
some construction that maybe

makes a turn in the economy of
the black community. The first

black housing development,
Berkeley Square, designed by

Paul R. Williams, talked about
par Williams last month also,

because I talked about Carver
Park, and the building of that

housing project for African
Americans lived at the basic

town site when they were working
at basic magnesium. So Berkeley

Square was designed by the same
architect Paul R. Williams. When

I interviewed Dr. Charles, our
West son, John West, he told me

this, this is one of his quotes.
It was a case of necessity,

actually, because here you have
this hotel coming up the Moulin

Rouge. Now we're just completing
that first nice housing area on

the west side, and it is called
Berkeley Square. It is between D

and H. And it's over by burns.
We had two of those houses. So

Dr. West actually purchased two
houses on Wyatt, because he had

a friend Dr. McMillan, who
wasn't here yet. So Dr. McMillan

had a house, but he was still in
the Army Reserve because he was

still part of that Korean Korean
War conflict. My mother, Dottie

West, was taking care of his
house down the street from ours

on Wyatt. Then there was another
friend, Jim Goodloe, who was a

former police officer in Los
Angeles who had a house and

wasn't living here yet. He was
on Friedman street. There was a

home that his mother would also
rent out. Della Reese was one of

the people who rent it from us.
The true nears also rented and I

don't know if you remember Earl
Graham, he was a wonderful

entertainer. He also rented from
my parents, Archie Moore, the

boxing champion, rented from us.
My dad, with all was also the

ring physician for fighters that
came to Las Vegas to fight. And

some of those chorus girls also
rented from us. Now this is when

John is younger, he said, and I
used to drive them to work. That

was a little side hustle of
mine, and I would charge them

about 50 cents apiece. So the
world is shifting the mid 1950s

See this shift beginning to
happen. We have new jobs, and

those jobs are now at the Nevada
Test Site. The work at basic

magnesium incorporated in did.
There are other plants in that

area that also employed some
black men, but now African

American men are working at the
Nevada Test Site as well as the

strip and all kinds of other
jobs here in the city. But it's

the Nevada Test Site that makes
a difference is a federal

installation, federal dollars
coming into the black community.

So we are seeing a great
difference. So Berkeley Square

opens in 1954 1955. The houses
are adding to the other houses

in the community. This housing
development had started the

discussion for it had started
way back in 1947. And now it's

just getting off the ground. But
it's at a time when housing is

really needed. 22 acres of
property is set aside for this

149 Lots. And this, this grows
because there are really about

164 houses that are actually
built. We don't know how most of

these homes were financed. We
know that a person who worked

along with Paul Williams, to
build this was a person from

Berkeley, California. He acted
as the financier, he was an

attorney, a media person, a
developer, and a civil rights

advocate. His name was Berkeley.
And that's where Berkeley Square

gets gets its name. So this is
our first African American

subdivision that you can still
see today. It is now on the

National Register of Historic
Places. Some of the homes have

been kept wonderfully, all
through the years 1954 55 some

of the homes are still very,
very beautiful. I interviewed a

woman yesterday whose family
purchased one of those homes,

she still has it in her her
portfolio of properties. And she

still keeps it up to a wonderful
level. Now at the same time, and

most of you are waiting for me
to say this, I'm sure. But at

the same time, we're also
constructing the Moulin Rouge

Hotel Casino. Now there are lots
of other properties, gaming

places here in the community. So
don't think that Moulin Rouge is

the very first gaming property
in the west side, not true.

Jackson Avenue, starting in the
1940s had all kinds of

nightclubs, small gaming venues
that had poker, slot machines,

Blackjack, and craps. So this is
not unusual to have a gaming

facility in the west side. But
the Moulin Rouge is different,

because it can rival any of
those downtown or on the Las

Vegas Strip. So that's why you
hear so much about the Moulin

Rouge is this beautiful venue,
where African Americans now

don't have to live in boarding
houses when they come here for

divorces, or they come here to
entertain on the Strip. Sammy

Davis Jr. tells us about staying
at the Harrison house. We also

know that he stayed at Mrs.
Shaw's apartment sometimes, the

Harrison house was not that big.
So there were other places that

African Americans can live as
well as those in Berkeley

Square. And places like the
Harrison house. So Mrs. Shaw's

apartments, was one of those
places along with the Harrison

house. Sammy Davis, Jr. writes
about Mrs. Harris. He said when

they went there to rent the room
for the first time he and his

uncle and his father, he said
Mrs. Harrison charge them so

much that they said to her,
Well, we could stay at at the

sands, and she said, we'll go
and stay at the sands. Mrs.

Harrison knew that it was
impossible for them to stay at

the sands at that current time.
But she was a businesswoman. And

she had a business to run just
like the sands and the dunes and

all the others. But now 1955 May
of 1955 the Moulin Rouge opens,

it opens to the standing room
only crowd. So you see people

like to Lulu Bankhead, Frank
Sinatra, and all other just a

plethora of Hollywood stars in
the audience that night. And

your host for the evening is Joe
Lewis, the heavyweight champion

of the world, and in some minds
in the black community, mine

It's like my father, Joe Lewis
will always be the heavyweight

champion of the world. Yes, our
lead might be the greatest, but

it was Joe Lewis, who are Blacks
throughout the south, would pull

up a chair around somebody's
radio back in the 1940s 1950s,

early 50s. And they would listen
to the boxing matches on the

radio. That's how popular Joe
Lewis was. When he knocked out

his opponents, black men
throughout the south, walked on

water, because Joe Lewis had
beat all of those opponents. So

now, the person who's greeting
you at this plush place on

Bonanza, right there in the
black community was Joe Lewis,

the champion of the world. There
was a clothing store in the

Moulin Rouge Rouge that soles,
so women's dresses. Last month

when I talked to you about this,
I told you about Jimmy gay, what

Jimmy gays wife, Hazel ran that
women's clothing store in the

Moulin Rouge. So this is the
kind of place that we that we

are in now. It is opening night,
you've got the first line of

black dancers in Las Vegas. And
we have dancers like Ana Bailey,

and Norma, and all all of these
other dancers who have danced

all over the world. They've
danced in London and Paris and

New York and Los Angeles. And
now they're right here on the

west side, dancing and align.
And their their images graced

the front of Life magazine in
June of 1955. That's how popular

they became. So why is this
place so popular? It was only

open for five, maybe five and a
half months. Most people don't

know that. That was the hay day
period. Yes, it opened again,

right after the hay day period.
But during that hay day period,

that period of time that
everybody talks about, it was

only five and a half months. But
they did something at the Moulin

Rouge that was unexpected. Those
standing room only crowds were

the weight of the world at that
point. But the owners of the

Rouge wanted more. They want it
to pull people over from the

Strip. The last show on the Las
Vegas Strip was a midnight show.

So by two o'clock in the
morning, all the shows are over.

So the owners of the Moulin
Rouge decided to put on a show

at 230 in the morning. So these
beautiful black dancers, this

black singer, Bob Bailey, singer
emcee, they now put on an

additional show that pulls the
entertainers here entertaining

from all over the country. It
pulls them over to the west

side. 230 in the morning, you
get the high rollers who are

following these entertainers
over and everybody wants to be

in the Moulin Rouge. Suddenly,
it closes. Five months, five and

a half months. The Rouge closes.
people show up to work one

morning, to prepare for the day,
to prepare for the restaurants

and to prepare for the dancing,
the practicing. They all have to

go into making the show for the
evening. There's a padlock on

the door. People say that it was
padlocked because subcontractors

were not paid for all of the
construction work that they that

they had done. They were not
paid for all of it. Other people

say that. There are other
reasons. We think maybe there

are some other reasons like the
competition had just gotten a

little too keen. And that's why
the Moulin Rouge was closed.

Now, yes, it opened again
immediately. Leo frog opens it

and there are several owners
over the years. But it was never

equal to that heyday period. And
that's why people talk about it

today. Because it was such a
wonderful, wonderful era of

entertainment here in Las Vegas.
So I told you that I was going

to talk about Charles Keller.
Charles Keller was one of the

attorneys He's sent to Las Vegas
by Thurgood Marshall. Why is

that so important? Thurgood
Marshall worked for the NAACP in

New York. And one of the
mandates that he deemed for

himself for the N double A CP to
attain was to have at least one

black attorney in every state in
the union. Many states did not

have an African American
attorney. Nevada was one of

those states without a black
attorney. Thurgood Marshall

encouraged his friend, Charles
Keller, a civil rights attorney

that he had known for years in
New York. And at that time, New

York is where the NAACP
headquarters were. They're no

longer there. But at that time,
that's where they were. Charles

Keller agreed to move to Nevada.
He had accumulated all kinds of

income property over the years,
he began to sell off his

holdings had a rather large
cashier's check when he moved to

Las Vegas, he went into one of
our banks here, to open an

account to deposit his money.
And it took several minutes it

was took quite a while as a
matter of fact, so he was

patiently waiting. And then the
police came in. And the police

said, we are a little concerned.
No black man should have this

kind of money. So we just want
to investigate. Unfortunately,

Charles Kela began to laugh. And
I think that laughter probably

cause some other problems in his
life here. But soon, it was all

worked out. I'm sure that they
called everybody in New York,

and they were able to Yes,
verify that this cashier's check

was authentic, and that Charles
Keller actually had the amount

of money written on the check.
Well, over $100,000 We don't

know the exact amount of that
check. We have heard 175,000. We

have heard some larger than
that. But Charles Keller has to

wait a year before he can sit
for the bar exam arrives in

1959, because he was to take the
exam in 1960. In 1959, he also

prepares by taking classes, real
estate classes to get his real

estate licenses, as well as he
volunteers to work in the Office

of the NAACP. So he becomes well
known in the community even

before he takes the exam. He
helps the volunteers at the

NAACP work on various issues.
And because he's sitting here to

work for the state of Nevada, he
not only gets to know people

here in Las Vegas, he also
travels back and forth to the

Reno area. And he gets to know
people who are also protesting

for civil rights in that area.
So he's well known throughout

the state 1960. And yes, I've
gone away from the from the

1950s. Just one year 1960. He
sits for the exam, results

return. And Charles Keller does
not get his results. So he

inquires. And they tell him that
his score is too high, that he

must have cheated. So you can
look in the records. And you can

see the fight that he has to
mount in order to get his

licenses. He fights for five
years. And he doesn't really get

his licenses to practice law
until 1965 Even though he has

passed the exam in 1960. In the
intervening years, two other

attorneys out of Howard
University, come here, Robert

Reed and Earl white, and they
pass the bar exam and they are

licensed in Nevada. Before
Charles Keller, I still always

refer to Charles Keller as our
first black American attorney,

because he really was he just
wasn't granted his licenses. You

can find all of that paperwork,
you can go online and start

searching and you can find all
of that paperwork. So I just

have a few more minutes. And I
want to give you a little taste

of what I am going to talk
about. Next time when we come

back. I'm going to talk about
the 1960s the 1960s you don't

hear about big cuz most people
don't understand how important

the economic opportunity board
was. So in 1960, integration

takes place. Yes. 1960, before
the Civil Rights Act of 1964,

integration takes place in Las
Vegas. And then in the mid 60s,

we get the economic opportunity
board. That is that funding

umbrella that brings in federal
dollars into Clark County, and

is able to pay for all kinds of
projects to employ people. Out

of that comes the first black
radio station, KC EP, oh, I

probably shouldn't have said
that. Because today I'm on. I'm

at KU envy. But that's what
happens out of the EOB and the

1960s in with a riot. And I want
to tell you about that

revolution, about that riot. Why
would it happen now, as things

are getting better and better
and better? Maybe it wasn't fast

enough. So please join me for
Sunday mornings, at 830 here at

KU envy, for soul to soul. SO to
SO is a free for all of positive

energy, where I talk to guess,
and sometimes just by myself,

about books, and food, and
music, and all the good things

of life. Thank you so much for
joining me today.

You've been listening to special
programming sponsored by public

radio K, u and v 91.5. The
content of this program does not

reflect the views or opinions of
91.5 Jasmine Moore, the

University of Nevada, Las Vegas,
or the Board of Regents of the

Nevada System of Higher
Education.

Soul to Soul March 26th 2022
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