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Black History Month Brings Tours, Lectures To Las Vegas’ Westside

Clinton Wright Photograph Collection at UNLV Libraries Special Collection

The Nevada Preservation Foundation plans a series of Black History Month walking tours and lectures to recognize the African-American experience in Las Vegas.

Events kick off on Saturday with a barbecue and meet-and-greet at the Historic Westside School, a nearly century-old landmark that was recently restored and is home to the foundation.

The foundation has several events scheduled for Black History Month.

The group plans to share stories of the Westside, the historically black neighborhood just west of downtown Las Vegas and north of Bonanza Road.

Michelle Larime is the preservation foundation’s associate director said there were several reasons why the foundation decided to hold the Black History Month events.

“As a celebration of us moving into the neighborhood, we decided to expand our programming… and hold a series of events to really showcase the history of the area, tell our story of moving into the school and get to know the community a little bit better,” she said.

She said she hopes the walking tours and lectures help people appreciate the buildings around the historic Westside and help them understand why they are important.

Black residents and businesses were restricted to the area during segregation, creating a closed-in but vibrant community. The area grew more economically challenged after the lifting of racial restrictions when the more affluent could move elsewhere.

“We know there needs to be reinvestment in the historic Westside but I think it needs to be very careful investment,” said Heidi Swank, who is an assemblywoman and the head of the Nevada Preservation Foundation.

Swank said gentrification can hurt communities like the Westside because the developers that come in often don’t take into account the historic nature of the neighborhood and the changes can price people out of their homes.

“If you couple economic development with historic preservation, you come up with neighborhoods that are not as much changed as you get with gentrification,” she said.

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