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Las Vegas portraits show what Black History Month means to locals

This collection of portraits celebrates Las Vegas’ dynamic and inspiring African-American community, which includes world-class entertainers and chefs, top-flight executives, and a 9-year-old who’s already eyeing a presidential run. Their backgrounds may be varied, but their messages of reflection, appreciation and hope are echoed in every image.

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Sean Scott and John Scott

Tap dancing brothers in “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace, in Las Vegas.

“Our culture has been fighting for equality for so long,” said Sean Scott. “It’s important to keep the legacy alive for the ones that paved the way for us.”


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Jerry Metellus

Professional portrait and studio photographer

“Black History Month is a necessity to remind people of the accomplishments of black people in this country, and that we’re a fundamental part of the fabric of America.”


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Trey Young-Winfrey

Trey is the 9-year-old winner of the “Kid Mayor” program sponsored by Strong Start Nevada at John W. Bonner Elementary School in Las Vegas.

“When I think of Black History Month, I think of Dr. Martin Luther King, and how he set the example for all of us,” said Young-Winfrey.


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Michelle Johnson

Contemporary jazz singer/songwriter and Yale graduate at her home in Las Vegas. She has shared the stage with musicians including Elton John, Barbra Streisand and Paul McCartney.

“To remember that we stand on the shoulders of those that came before us,” said Johnson. “In my case, that would be Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan.”


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Royal Byron

Founder and owner of Nevada’s First Barber School in Las Vegas.

“I’d like to see African-American people use Black History Month as a reminder to support and uplift our own communities and businesses.”


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Claytee White

Director of UNLV Libraries Oral History Research Center in Las Vegas.

“Black History Month allows us to teach America what happened after slavery,” said White. “All of the inventions, all of the discoveries, all of the contributions made by African-Americans.”


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Clarence Gilyard

Actor and UNLV faculty member. Before teaching, Gilyard starred in Hollywood blockbusters such as “Top Gun” and “Die Hard,” as well as playing Chuck Norris’ partner “Jimmy Trivette” in “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

“At such a diverse campus as UNLV, my challenge is to teach my students how to be able to effectively tell their stories,” said Gilyard. “That’s what’s important to me about being an artist and educator during Black History Month.”


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Ronnie Rainwater

Chef de Cuisine at Delmonico Steakhouse at The Venetian, in Las Vegas.

“For me, Black History Month is more of a humanity thing, not just a black and white thing,” said Rainwater. “And in my case, food is a big part of that by bringing all different kinds of people together.”


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Jeremy Denzel, Kyo Dominick and J.D. Rainey

“Magic Mike Live” performers at Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas.

“We’re moving in the right direction, but there’s so much work still to do,” said Dominick. “We all need to make more of an attempt to get to know each other, and understand that love is ultimately the answer,” said Denzel. “Black History Month is a time to celebrate all the positives and all the burdens we’ve overcome,” said Rainey.


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Deverynn Bryant

Historian/advocate Deverynn Bryant stands in front of the original Moulin Rouge sign that is now preserved in the Neon Museum Boneyard in Las Vegas. The Moulin Rouge was the first hotel/casino in Las Vegas to be desegregated, and icons such as Sammy Davis Jr., Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole regularly performed there.

“I wouldn’t be able to walk through the Wynn, Encore or Bellagio if it weren’t for the Moulin Rouge and the people that came before me,” said Bryant.


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Phyllis A. James

MGM Resorts International’s Chief Diversity & Corporate Responsibility Officer. In 2019, Black Enterprise Magazine called James “one of the most powerful women in corporate diversity.”

“Black History Month is a time to remember and celebrate the enormous contributions of African-Americans in the building and maintenance of this great nation of America,” said James. “And it’s also a time to remember that we have a long way to go to reach true equality in this society.”


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Lawrence Weekly

Weekly is the first African-American to chair the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, and is also the chairman of the Board of Trustees for University Medical Center of Southern Nevada.

“Black History Month enables us to showcase, commemorate and celebrate the outstanding contributions of men and women of African descent,” said Weekly. “It’s so important that we leave this legacy of hope for generations to come.”


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Angela Rene’

CEO and designer of Rene’ Tyler Plus Sizes 12 & Above. Rene’ produced the show Haute Curves LA Fashion Week, the first plus-sized fashion show at the event.

“The history of African-American people needs to be discussed every day,” said Rene’. “Ann Lowe, the country’s first black high-fashion designer, created Jacqueline Onassis’ wedding dress and almost no one knows about it.”


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Barbara Addison

Fordyce Club member in Las Vegas. The Fordyce Club was named after Fordyce, Ark., where much of the African-American population of Las Vegas moved from in the 1950s to work in military industries.

“Black History Month makes me think about what everyone in the black community had to go through to get to where we are today,” said Addison. “I just want to see peace.”


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Robert Knowles

Knowles has played the role of “Le Travesty” in Cirque du Soleil’s “O” for the past eight years.

“Black History Month is a time to remember and reflect on not only the bad things in our history, but also the great things as well,” said Knowles. “And to try and uplift and encourage people to grow and be a positive light in someone else’s life.”


The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian and Palazzo.

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