Henderson Speaks: Industry, labor and race relations to be topics

To help people know where they are going, sometimes they need to look at where they have been.

At least that’s the thoughts of the Henderson Historical Society.

“We have an obligation to teach people about our history,” said Rick Watson, a member of the society who has lived in Henderson since the 1940s. “There is an old saying about those who don’t know their history are condemned to relive it.”

The Henderson Historical Society is expected to continue its mission of teaching people about the community’s origin with its next Henderson Speaks lecture series, which is set for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Henderson campus of the College of Southern Nevada, 700 College St.

The lectures are designed to have panelists discuss various topics from Henderson’s past.

The event is free and open to the public.

The panel is slated to include former U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, who also served as Nevada’s 25th governor; Nevada State College associate professor of history Peter LaChapelle; and former Nevada State Archivist Guy Rocha. They are expected to discuss the impact industrial plants in Henderson had in Southern Nevada and labor and race relations at the Basic Magnesium Plant.

Bryan’s father worked in the legal department at Basic Magnesium Plant, which produced magnesium used during World War II. A townsite, which later became Henderson, was created to house workers from the plant.

“(Henderson) wasn’t the desired place to live,” Bryan said, “but that changed over time.”

Since the creation of the plants and the town, Henderson has attracted more residents which then led to the development of its first master-planned community known as Green Valley.

“And now, it’s such a lovely venue,” he said. “Henderson went on to take a leading role in the state.”

This is the historical society’s second Henderson Speaks event. In February, the society hosted its first lecture with speakers Lou La Porta, a member of the historical society and one of Henderson’s first city councilmen, and former Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson.

Watson said the events get people interested in history whether their families have been in Henderson for generations or recently moved to the city.

“The other reason it’s important is because our community has had a huge migration of people in the last 60 years,” Watson added. “We have to teach newcomers about the culture of the area. People who are new here need to learn the history.”

Watson said the lectures have been well-received.

“We had the auditorium filled,” Watson said. “It was good history and good storytelling.”

The lectures are part of the organization’s overall goal to collect and preserve Henderson’s history. Members of the group have also been collecting stories from other longtime residents.

For more information, visit hendersonhistoricalsociety.org.

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 702-387-5201.

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