Tag Archives: ruby duncan

Inspiration from Sin City

This guest post comes to us from Emmily Bristol, the creator of The Sin City Siren and The Tired Feminist. She is an award-winning writer, a community organizer and a new mom in Las Vegas.

For Women’s History Month, I knew just who I wanted to talk about: The Westside Mothers of Las Vegas. To me, they embody the power of women and grassroots organizing.

Even as Rat Pack names twinkled in the lights of the 1960s Las Vegas Strip, blacks were segregated into a section of town called the Westside and times were desperate. Among those struggling were single mothers Ruby Duncan, Rosie Lee Seals and many others. They were uneducated, poor and black. They didn’t have any experience as community organizers, but they were motivated to help their hungry children.

In just a few years, they would create an organization — Operation Life — that would grow far beyond their initial neighborhood meetings in living rooms and laundromats. Operation Life opened a community center providing healthcare, poverty programs and home-grown economic development to West Las Vegas for the first time. And they managed to bring the glittering Strip to a stand-still in one of the largest protest marches in Las Vegas Boulevard’s history.

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Copyright 2010 Gloria Feldt