150+ Facts About The Northern Nevada African American Experience

Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.      ~~  Carter G. Woodson

“If you believe people have no history worth mentioning its easy to believe they have no humanity worth defending”                                                ~~    William Loren Katz

1843 –  1844 Jacob Dodson accompanies John C. Fremont in Nevada exploration

1850  James Beckworth credited with “finding” Beckworth Pass.  Over 10,000 travelers and many persons who contributed to the evolution of both California and Nevada received assistance from Jim Beckwourth.

1852  Nevada was a part of the Territory of Utah from 1850 to 1861; Utah made slavery legal in 1852. Termination of the owners contract in the event that the master had sexual intercourse with a servant “of the African race,” neglected to feed, clothe, shelter, or otherwise abuse a servant, or attempt to take him from the territory against his will. Some schooling was also required for slaves between the ages of six and twenty. Voting requirements, ““free, white, male” were eliminated in 1967.

1853  Ben Palmer made land claims of 320 acres and 400 acres on the west side of Carson Valley with his brother-in-law, DH Barber. The Palmer home was often used as a lodging house for travelers and new settlers in the Carson Valley.

1860  Ben Palmer listed as one the top taxpayers in Douglas County.  He could neither read or vote.

1860  The Utah Census listed 50 blacks, 29 of whom were listed as slaves.  For “Nevada Territory” (not yet officially declared), the census lists 16 freedman, 2 mulatto women and one slave in Genoa, T.J. Singleton.  Nevada Census lists 44.

1861  The First Territorial Legislature limited voting rights to white men over the age of twenty- one, who met citizenship and residency requirements. That law disenfranchised the    forty-four Blacks living in the territory, roughly one-fifth of the population recorded in the    1860 Nevada census.

1862  Slavery outlawed in US Territories.

1863  At the time of the Emancipation Proclamation, there were 3 slaves in the Territory of Nevada

1863  Black Baptist Church established in Virginia City

1864  (July) President Lincoln received a wire from Nevada: “Received constitutional amendment yesterday abolishing slavery our legislature ratified it immediately only two (2) dissenting [signed:] H G Blasdell Gov Nevada”

1864  Nevada’s Constitution Article 2 is the strongest anti-slavery clause of any state constitution in the Union.

1864  When Nevada was admitted as a state, as non-citizens Blacks remained disenfranchised under the Nevada Constitution

1864  Boston Saloon established (Wm HG Brown)  in Virginia City

1865  (Jan 31)  the US House of Representatives passes a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery, Nevada’s Congressman Henry G. Worthington casting one of the two votes giving a constitutional majority.

1865  On June 19, the African-Americans of Virginia City formed the Nevada Executive Committee to petition the Nevada Legislature for equal rights for “Colored Citizens of the State of Nevada.”

1866  February 1,  Nevada Executive Committee requested of the Legislature that “colored people be allowed to testify in civil cases.” The petition also called for black access to public schools since they paid taxes.  – See more at: http:// www.blackpast.org/aaw/ stephenson-w-h-c-1825-circa-1873#sthash. 3pHI8E92.dpuf

1867  (Jan 22) Nevada Legislature ratifies 14th amendment to US Constitution

1867  Ashlar Lodge #8 of Prince Hall Masonry organized in VC

1869  (March 1)  Nevada Legislature ratifies the 13th Amendment.

1868  Ben Palmer listed as the 10th largest taxpayer in Douglas County.  A successful rancher, he was partners with, H. F. Dangberg, and the Genoa postmaster and surveyor, C. P. Young, in the Douglas Consolidated Mill and Mining Company.

1869  (April) Wm Hall/JC Mortimor announce discovery of rock mining ledge in White Pine County

1870  Nevada Census lists 324 blacks in Nevada; 36 in Washoe County; 22 in Reno; 90 in Virginia City

1870  Lincoln Union Club formed in VC on Feb. 16, Dr. WHC Stephenson, Pres.  Dr. Stephenson, the first doctor of African-American descent, practiced in VC from 1863-1870

1870  Elko Republican Club formed

1870  William Bird (barber) runs for mayor of Virginia City

1871   Nelson Stoutmeyer (laborer) sues the Boards of Trustees of three school districts to enroll his seven year old son, David.

1871 Thomas Detter, African-American in Elko, activist writer/publisher of “ Nellie Brown or the Jealous Wife” with other stories was the first black to serve on a northern Nevada jury.

1872   In a 2-1 decision, the Nevada Supreme Court finds that segregation for “Negroes, Mongolians and Indians” is legal if both parties have equal physical and instructional facilities.  Given budget constraints, no districts could afford such construction or staffing and as a result children of color were to be admitted to Nevada public schools.

1873  (3.15) Charles Edwards and Freddie Bullock are on the Honor Roll in VCHS.

1874  Dumas Social and Literacy Club formed in VC.

1875  St John’s Lodge #13 of Prince Hall Masonry organized in Carson City

1875  Ben Palmer drives a herd of cattle from Seattle to Nevada to improve bloodlines amongst Nevada herds.

1877  (Dec 22) Sam Mills was the first African-American legally hung in Nevada (shot James Finnerty at Heeillechon on April 8)

1890  (Jan 3) Ratification of the 15th Amendment by the States complete.

1900  Census lists 134 blacks in Nevada.

1904  RPD Chief Leeper’s policy was to arrest and expel all unemployed blacks from Reno

1907  Under Southern Skies, a play about a “poor girl suspecting that there is a negro taint in her blood because of vague insinuations by Steve [who] sacrifices herself for her family’s sake…”, was playing at Reno’s McKissick opera house

1907  OH Hammonds passes the civil service exam and is subsequently sent to Reno to be the first US Weather Bureau station master.

1907  Henry Harris is the foreman of an all black crew on the Utah Construction Company’s ranch near Montello (formerly Vineyard Land and Livestock Co).  His brother, Lige, is also part of the crew.

1907  Betherl AME Church organized; dedicated church on May 29, 1910.

1910  Census lists 513 African-Americans in Northern Nevada.

1910  (July 4)  Fight of the Centur(Jack Johnson v Jim Jeffries)  The fight generated two pieces of national legislation: prohibition of inter-state transport of fight films and the still-in-effect  Mann Act, most recently used to discredit Chuck Berry and Eliot Spitzer.

1914  (Jan 5) a University of Nevada professor named Frandsen gave a speech to the Reno Civic Health League on “The Law of Heredity and Eugenics”

1919  NAACP organized in Reno on September 17 9or 23)

1920  The November 6 Ely Daily Times, edited and published by future Nevada governor Vail Pittman, editorialized on “race equality”—”This has long been favored in religious teachings, but its consummation means nothing more or less than dragging the whites down to the level of the darks. If such mixture meant a blood enrichment and the evolution of a superior type of man in the form of a composite, objection could not be maintained, but with the Caucasian as the highest type and any infusion of other blood actually lowering it, such an adventure into eugenics would be a crime against civilization and mankind as well.”

1922  A white gambler who shot a black porter is convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 1-2 years in prison.

1924  Ku Klu Klan spokesperson W. M. Cortney/Ely, Nevada: It is our aim to make White Pine County, in proportion to its population, one of the best Klan counties in the state of Nevada.

1925  (7.9) the Reno Ku Klux Klan chapter held a meeting to elect officers. Also burnt crosses on Peavine while initiating 2000 men

1925  (Oct 25) Ku Klux Klan burned four crosses (one at UNR, one at Sparks, one on Virginia and one on a raft in the Truckee River near Wingfield Park).

1932   Other black groups had gradually formed such as a Citizens Labor Protection Association, a Roosevelt Club

1934   Paul R. Williams  designs Luella Garvey House in Reno

1935   Reno Bethel AME organized

1937   Monument erected at Beckwourth Pass to honor James Beckworth who located the route over the Sierras. (May 23)

1939   Nevada Assembly rejects AB 88 which would have mandated equal rights in Nevada

1939   Paul R Williams designs First Church of Christ, Scientist in Reno

1940  Marion Motley (#41 Retired as sensational half back for the Cleveland Browns) enrolls     at UNR; becomes the first to break the race barrier and the only Nevada athlete in the     Pro Football Hall of Fame.

1941   Reno City Council protests AME Congregation purchase of Dania Hall.  The District Court is petitioned and grants congregation permission to borrow $ 5000 on July 10 for refurbishing of the Bell Street church which reopened on August 16, 1941.

1942   Bill Bailey opens the Harlem Rooms on East 6th Street in Reno

1943  (3.19)   in the Reno USO Council held a meeting to decide what to do after the owner of a building rented for a USO center for African American soldiers cancelled the rental agreement, returned the rent check, and told Mayor Froehlich he had received complaints from nearby property owners.

1945  NACCP Chartered in Reno by Alice and Alfred Smith

1947  AB5, outlawing racial discrimination in public accommodations referred to committee on Social Welfare where it dies.

1949  (Feb 8) in the Nevada Assembly defeated a measure sponsored by Assemblyman Don Crawford of Washoe County to outlaw the poll tax; Crawford pointing out that Nevada was bracketed in the nation’s mind with the southern states that used the tax to keep African Americans from voting but James Johnson of White Pine arguing that in Nevada it was merely a revenue producer (also speaking against the tax were Archie Cross of Washoe and James Ryan of Clark)

1950  Census counts 4,302 African-Americans in Nevada

1950   Sarann Preddy obtains a gaming license for her establishment, the Lincoln Bar, in Hawthorne.

1950   The only place in Reno where a black family could legally go out to dinner was the Bus Station.  All other restaurants in the city of Reno, including those in the casinos were “white only”.

1951  Leon Cowan begins teaching Navajo students at the Stewart Indian School, developing a culturally based math curriculum

1952  Bill Fong open the New China Club, touting multi-racial patronage

1952   Eddie Scott/Bertha Woodard found Reno/Sparks Chapter of NAACP.

1952  Stella Mason graduates from UNR (English)

1953  (Feb 8) Air Force officials, noting that there were no clubs in Reno that would admit African Americans, urged the Reno city council to approve a liquor license for Theresa King who wanted to operate King’s Lounge at 900 East Commercial Row (Col. Willard Walter said that when the old Reno Army Air Base was reactivated in 1952, the lack of facilities for blacks became a morale problem; Dr. Morse Little provided a character reference for Ms. King)

1955  Mineral County NAACP chartered (May 22)

1957  NV Legislature fails to pass civil rights legislation

1957  Segregation ended in Babbit Housing

1957  Nevada State PTA Convention is moved to the gymnasium of Hawthorne Middle School due to discrimination practices of the El Cap and other members of the Hawthorne business community.

1958  Reno judge declares miscenigation laws unconstitutional; follwed by the Nevada Legislature in 1968.

1959  Miscegenation laws repealed by NV State Legislature

1959  The Reno Sentinel debuts, Ruth Giles Jones, editor

1959  (Sept 13)  Nevada AFL-CIO adopts resolution rejecting discrimination in services for the * Squaw Valley Olympics.

1959  Reno-Sparks Branch of NAACP petitions city/county governments as well as the Governor and houses of the Legislature to endorse by resolution the principle of equality in places of public accommodations.

1959  Nevada Legislature repeals ban on interracial marriage (1959 NV St Chap 193 at 216) (January 21)

1959  NV Legislation passes bill prohibiting discrimination in procurement (Ch 126@137)

1959  Nevada State AFL-CIO adopts resolution to “oppose discrimination that might blight the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play at the 1960 Winter Olympics”

1959  Governor Sawyer proclaims February 8-15 Negro History Week (Feb 11)

1960  Squaw Valley demonstrations

1960  FW Woolworth Protest

1961  200 African-Americans march in Carson City; first time protesters, picket/march in state capitol

1961  Sit-in at Overland Cafe

1961  200 March in downtown demonstration

1961  Negroes barred from a breakfast sponsored by Women’s Democratic Club of Hawthorne, US Senator Howard Cannon, guest speaker (Oct 31)

1962  NAACP leaders meet at El Cap: Donald M Clark, Bob Davis, Lee Jones, Charles Kellar, Geo Mc Neal, Eddie Scott, Rev. Prentiss Walker, Joe Williams, Ulysses Woodard

1963  Helen Westbrook heads Meals on Wheels

1964  Robert E. Houston become the first black Police Officer in Reno

1964  William C Webb becomes Pastor to Second Baptist Church 2@$35/week

1965  Nevada Supreme Court orders admission of Charles Kellar to State Bar

1965  Nevada Civil Rights Act (NRS Ch 352 at 689)

1967  April 11 at the urging of Governor Paul Laxalt, the Nevada Athletic Commission joined the blacklist of Muhammad Ali, cancelling a Muhammad Ali/Floyd Patterson bout it had previously approved, with Laxalt claiming his reason was that he thought a second Patterson/Ali matchup would be a poor fight.

1967  Mustang builds a separate trailer for blacks.

1968   Human Relations Action Council formed at UNR; Black Student Union organized

1968  Poor People’s March in Reno

1968  LeRoy Badie chairs the action committee for the “instant park” (Pat Barker Park created from 7:35 a.m. on July 17 to noon on July 9.

1969   Ben Hazard becomes the first African-American faculty member at UNR (Art).  Later becomes Director of Oakland Museum.

1969  Kiah Lumpkin opens the Squeeze Inn (his chili was designated best in the world * by Charles Bronson).  Kiah was the first black Sertoman in Reno.

1971  Cloyd Phillips becomes Executive Director of CSA (Community Service Agency)

1971  Charles E. Wright becomes Nevada’s first black Police Chief in Carlin

1971  Housing discrimination outlawed by Nevada Legislature

1971  Jesse Hall becomes first black principal for Washoe County School District.

1972  Dr. Michael Corey founds UNR’s first Ethnic Studies program

1972  Richard E. Wyatt becomes the first black Highway Patrol officer and in 1974, becomes the first black to be hired by Adult Parole and Probation.

1972  Helen Westbrook helped establish Nevada’s first “Meals on Wheels” Nutrition Program for Seniors.

1974  David Dean opens law practice in Reno

1974  Luther Mack opens his first McDonalds

1976  Beazley v Davis, seminal case regarding child custody in bi-racial family

1976  “Butterfly” (Samuel) Gibson pickets US Courthouse in Reno protesting for protecting SBA in repeal of business loan

1977  Ada Taylor becomes Director of Special Programs/Academic Skills Center at UNR

1977  Bishop Divine Ruth Turner organized first Black Beauty Pageant in Northern NV

1979  Evelyn Mount starts her food pantry

1979  Buckaroo Lawrence Jackson of Elko died…..he was” not the fabled cowboy who drew sixgun with lightening speed, but was the honest-to-goodness rawhider who spent long muscle-bruising days in a hard saddle and got his guts mixed up every morning before his horse settled down to a day’s work.”  Jackson came to Elko in 1921.

1980  Bill Moon becomes member of the Reno Planning Commission

1980  Willie Washington initiates suit when Reno RFD throws out applications from potential black firefighters.

1982  Onie Cooper prevails in a case alleging prejudicial actions within State Personnel (Cooper v Department of Administration  558  F.Supp 244)

1984  (Sept)  Bill Bennett, Greg Claiborne, Robert Feemster and Noah Livingston become Reno’s first black firefighters.  They are joined in January of 1985 by Kevin Batton and Ken Dalton.

1985  Bill proposing MLK holiday passes out of Assembly; fails in  Senate

1987  Willard D. Bennett becomes the Postmaster of Sparks.

1988  Northern Nevada Black Cultural Awareness founded.

1988  Brother Ignatius Foster becomes principal of Manogue.

1989  Richard Witherspoon becomes Postmaster of Gabbs.

1989  First MLK Dinner in Reno (NNBCAS)

1990  Debra Feemster named principal of Lincoln Park Elementary school

1990  Dr. Harrison Bass Jr, performs the first surgery of removing gall bladder and appendix at the same time in Nevada

1990  Delores Feemster inducted into Women’s Hall of Fame

1991  Bernice Mathews elected to Reno City Council

1991  VC Charles Sands American members of the Reno Fire Department

1992  Reverend William C. Webb awarded UNR Presidents Medal “for outstanding contributions to the university”

1993  Karl Armstrong becomes first African-American Deputy Attorney General

1993   October – Cornucopia Magazine debuts under the efforts of Ceola Davis and Barbara Cheathon; becomes EnSoul, now archived at UNR Special Collections.

1994  Bernice Mathews elected to Reno City Council; when she moved on to the Nevada  State Senate, her daughter, Aileen Martin completed her term.

1998  Ken Howard appointed to Reno Municipal Court by Reno City Council

1999  Peggy Jean Livingtson awarded the Konze prize winner as Ms. Nevada Senior America

1996   Our Story, Inc. founded by Kenneth B. Dalton

2001  (June 12) Bethel AME Church listed on the National Register of Historic Places

2001   Elaine M Brannon, Jane Moon, and Quilistine Washington-Walker incorporate the Reno/Sparks Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club.

2006  Reno dedicates the Westbrook Community Center in Black Springs

2006  (May 3) Michael Douglas sworn in as Justice of the Nevada Supreme Court

2007  Carson City resident, Charles Adams hosts Presidential Candidate Barak Obama in the candidate’s only Northern Nevada appearance

2008  Christine Jones Brady becomes first African-American Deputy Public Defender

2009  In April Pastor Luther DuPree was appointed the first Black African American Bishop in the Churches of God in Christ in Northern Nevada.

2011  Legislature passes NRS 2236.033 stating the Governor shall annually proclaim June 19 to be “Juneteenth Day” in the State of Nevada to commemorate the abolition of slavery in the United States.  (May 12)

2011  Michael L. Douglas selected as Chief Justice at Supreme Court

2013  (Nov 15)  Ondra Berry becomes Brigadier General of Nevada National Guard

2014  Dr. Angie Taylor named to Washoe County School Board; Traci Davis appointed interim Superintendent of WCSD

Locally, there are many first’s for blacks in our community. Besides Manuel Gray, being the founder of the Hawthorne NAACP; Janet Jones was the first black student to run for Miss Mineral County as was first runner-up; Barbara Harnage was the first black woman to hold the District and State offices of School Board President from Mineral County and Oliver L. Wert was the first black man to be appointed by the Governor of Nevada to represent Mineral County on the CETA board and NAACP President.