A week from this Saturday, Nevadans commemorate how far we’ve come and how far we still must journey.
Legends of the fall walk again on Sept. 29 at the Grand Sierra Hotel as the Reno-Sparks NAACP celebrates it 73rd Annual Freedom Fund Banquet.
As fate would have it, the honorees are more than half a century apart but not separated at all.
The inaugural Dolores Feemster Lifetime Achievement Award will go to Helen Tyler Stewart White (1921-2013) a true Nevada civil rights pioneer.
NAACP matriarch Dolores Feemster died earlier this year. Dear Dolores told me many stories of how Helen first motivated her to become involved in the civil rights movement.
Helen and her husband, John White, Sr., were the first non-African-American members of the Reno-Sparks NAACP back in the day when such association came with costs to be paid by you and your family.
The Whites helped the NAACP expose overt housing discrimination by being shown houses which a previously inquiring black couple was told were not on the market.
Many older Reno homes still bear unenforceable restrictions on their title deeds noting that the property may never be sold to negroes.
Helen was present along with a who’s-whom of local legends when Gov. Grant Sawyer signed the Nevada Civil Rights Act of 1965.
Dolores Feemster (1929-2018) grew up as the daughter of an Italian father and African-American mother and became a civil rights legend after first becoming a BFF with a white woman.
Helen’s children will accept the award for her.
They will share the stage with Dolores and Helen’s direct descendants, two teenage girls from Yerington High School and their family.
Taylissa Marriott and Jayla Tolliver will receive the Eddie Scott/Bertha Woodard Human Rights Advocacy Award. That honor is named for two legendary NAACP presidents who were active when that kind of conduct could get you killed.
Taylissa and Jayla and their family were subjected to wholesale discrimination and death threats (smoking gun photos available with the expanded Barbwire web edition at NevadaLabor.com). An attempt was made on their lives for the crime of being black in the Nevada outback.
They just won a major federal civil rights case against the Yerington Police Dept. and the Lyon County School District and have vowed to graduate from that school.
YHS is now treating them better but the town is still a throwback to Mississippi West Nevada circa 1955.
Join us in honoring these heroines on Sept. 29. Make reservations at RenoSparksNAACP.org or contact me.
The work goes on. The dream will never die.
POLL CATS ANONYMOUS. Newspapers are officially obsolete. In a perfect demonstration of the godlessness of follytix, I got polled about the Nevada gubernatorial race last Sunday right in the middle of religious ritual: the Raiders vs. the Broncos. Blasphemy.
One of the questions was how do I get most of my news, online via mobile device or desktop, or from television. That’s it. Newspapers were not included.
INK-STAINED BLAST FROM THE PAST. A couple of weeks ago, I attended the memorial celebration for Barbara Stone with whom I served on the City of Reno’s cable committee about a dozen years ago. I took a seat next to some folks I didn’t know. It turned out otherwise. I had randomly chosen to visit with Mel Sipe and his daughter, Colleen Woll, who was a child when she knew Barbara and her family in Hawthorne.
Mel’s name was familiar and it didn’t take long to remember why. He worked under Tribune circulation manager Tom Berner back in the 1980’s. His name rang a bell because he was on the Trib staff list in every edition. He now lives in Washoe Valley.
ANALOG MAN IN DIGITAL WORLD. I’ve finally figured out a modern marketing moniker to upgrade the status of my obsolete but still very efficient 35mm film camera: It’s actually “a digitized analog continuous-pixel news content gatherer.”
Remember comedy legend George Carlin’s red flags raised by superfluous syllables?
Be well. Raise hell. Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Barbano is a 49-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and first vice-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail <email@example.com>. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.