Thursday, August 17, 2017

Don Barden

May 26, 2011 by Las Vegas Black Image Magazine  
Filed under Feature

Don Barden

Don Barden

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness. Don Barden was a symbol of kindness and generosity.He died May 19 at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, losing his fight against lung cancer. He was 67.He was a pioneer of his time and an inspiration to not only the local gaming business community, but inspired our “wonderful” children at Kermit Roosevelt Booker Sr. Empowerment Elementary School. The students and staff of Kermit R. Booker Sr. Empowerment Elementary School will certainly remember with great fondness and appreciation all the kind contributions Mr. Barden has done for our school.

Through a community-business partnership, Mr. Barden unselfishly supported the academic growth of the students of Booker School for nearly 10 years.Mr. Barden sponsored our annual Gents and Lads Banquet. By providing the room, staff and meal, he made it possible for the boys and their dads, community leaders and significant men in their lives to have a truly special evening. The men served as role models and mentors for all Booker boys exemplifying their potential.Through his leadership, the Fitzgeralds Las Vegas sponsored yearly essay contests for fifth-grade students with a focus on African-Americans who impacted American history. Mr. Barden personally awarded the children sizable U.S. saving bonds for their efforts.
For the last several years, Mr. Barden made it possible for the children at Booker to receive backpacks filled with resources necessary for academic preparation and success, as well as teachers receiving substantial classroom supplies. Fifth-grade students that passed the Nevada Writing Proficiency Exam attended Sea Camp in San Diego. Mr. Barden provided toiletries and towels for each student. Through this gesture, students’ needs were met at no expense to the parents.

Mr. Barden organized and hosted educational conferences for fourth- and fifth-grades students of Kermit Roosevelt Booker Sr. Empowerment Elementary School. Celebrities and members of the community shared inspirational and motivational messages with the children. These conferences reinforced the idea that people care about our students and they have the abilities to be successful.

His generosity continued as he sponsored holiday parties complete with raffle gifts for the staff of Booker, as well as end-of-the-year celebrations held at the Fitzgeralds hotel and casino. The depth of his generosity runs deep, as Mr. Barden left his thumbprint on the children and staff of Kermit Roosevelt Booker Sr. Empowerment Elementary School.

Dr. Beverly Mathis
Principal, Kermit Roosevelt Booker Sr. Empowerment Elementary School

Gary Loveman ,Caesars Entertainment Chairman CEO and President “Born in an era when blacks weren’t even allowed into Las Vegas casinos, Don Barden became the first African-American to own one. While his later years brought him personal and professional heartache, Barden never lost his courage or his ability to inspire others to achieve their best. He will be missed.”

George Maloof, of Palm Casino and Resort “Don broke down barriers in the gaming world and was well respected in the community. He will be missed.”

George Maloof

Peter Bernhard, Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission “I was privileged to preside over the Nevada Gaming Commission’s approval of Mr. Barden’s gaming license application in October, 2001. As a child growing up in Las Vegas, I was aware of the issues facing minorities in this town in the 1950s and 1960s. Mr. Barden’s licensing as the first African-American owner of a major casino property was a milestone, both for him and for our community. As we strive for equal opportunities for all to reach educational, professional, and business success based on merit, we should remember Mr. Barden as a leader in the casino industry.”

Gary Loveman

Gary Loveman

Don Barden

George Maloof

Peter Bernhard

Peter Bernhard

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