West Las Vegas Library site of performance honoring Dr. King

Cassandra Lewis of North Las Vegas remembers walking on the streets of the Historic Westside decades ago to the only store on that side of town.

“My parents came here when I was 2,” she said, adding, “It’s home to me.”

Now 57, Lewis takes pride in working in what she calls the heart of the city. She works as a principal community program specialist for the city of Las Vegas and helps lead the Las Vegas Black History Committee out of an office at Doolittle Senior Center.

Each year, Las Vegas hosts a series of events leading into African American History Month. On Jan. 20, students from the North Las Vegas-based Trinity Conservatory of Art will perform in a showcase celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It’s part of Peace Week 2019, a weeklong chain of events celebrating African American History Month, Lewis said.

Lewis said the city wanted to showcase what King stood for, “which is peace, equality, justice.”

Trinity Conservatory of Art, located inside Somerset Academy, engages young people in the arts: spoken word, music, dance and acting. On Jan. 20, students will tell stories revolving around modern issues, conservatory founder and director Monica Armstrong said.

“Dancing is a way to kind of express what’s going on in the world in a safe, nonoffensive way,” Armstrong said. “There’s a piece that my little ones are doing called Amazing Grace. It’s a remembrance of the four little girls who were killed in the church bombing” in 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama.

“We’re remembering but also connecting things that happened then to things going on now. But (it’s) also a celebration of the things we’ve overcome.”

They’re educating via the arts, Armstrong said, noting that some people aren’t familiar with the story of the four girls killed in a racially motivated attack. It’s important to keep the history alive, she said.

“We don’t necessarily learn about the civil rights movement or slavery anymore,” Lewis said, “especially not in school. My grandchildren don’t speak of it. But we all still celebrate Dr. King’s birthday. And that’s one of the ways we can still let our young people know about our history.”

In the future, Lewis said, the city wants to spread that message beyond the Historic Westside.

“You’re going to see students from all different cultures that are participating in this showcase,” Armstrong said. “The art is an expressive common ground.”

Contact Mia Sims at msims@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0298. Follow @miasims___ on Twitter.

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