%> Nevada Riches: The Land and People of the Silver State
Nevada Government & Politics
World War II & Post-War

Las Vegas and the Moulin Rouge

The many hotels that opened on the Las Vegas Strip in the 1950s had more than their desert themes in common.  In a time of deepening segregation in Las Vegas, they were all closed to African-Americans.  Even famous entertainers such as Sammy Davis, Jr. could not enter the resorts' public areas.  Often, the entertainers could not stay at the hotels and had to lodge in predominantly black West Las Vegas.

The exception to segregation was the Moulin Rouge in West Las Vegas.  Opened in May 1955, it was Las Vegas's first interracial resort.  African-Americans were not only guests, but also occupied key positions in the resort.  African-Americans worked as dealers, security guards, and cocktail waitresses--positions denied to them elsewhere.

Entertainment in the elegant showroom rivaled the best anywhere.  From an integration standpoint, the new resort was a fabulous success, yet the Moulin Rouge closed after only five months in business. However, in March 1960 another step forward for civil rights in Nevada was made at the Moulin Rouge.  A series of meetings involving political figures, law enforcement officers, and representatives of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was held in the dining room of the once glamorous hotel.  As a result of these meetings, agreement was reached that led to the lowering of racial barriers at downtown and Strip resorts.

Photo Credits:
Nevada State Museum and Historical Society