Thursday, October 6, 2022

HISTORIC BLACK VEGAS | Putting in the work

September 13, 2022 by  
Filed under Highlights

Claytee D. White

Recognizing Faye Todd & Jackie Brantley

BY CLAYTEE D. WHITE

Although we have not yet arrived at the final destination, there are so many people who deserve recognition for their roles in Las Vegas’ long march toward justice.

Two of them are Faye Todd and Jackie Brantley. Todd migrated to Las Vegas in 1964 and Brantley grew up here. Here’s the context: in the 1970s, after the intensity of the national civil rights movement began to wane, Las Vegas was still taking baby steps on issues of employment equity. These circumstances weren’t much different from other parts of the country; access to good jobs was one of the reasons for the Great Migration that began around 1910 — when people began leaving the violence of the South for a better life.

In 1971, there was a consent decree in place that named a plethora of hotel casinos, labor unions, and the Las Vegas Resorts Association for not taking sustained, concerted action to further the hiring of Blacks in front-of-the-house jobs. After honing her office skills and learning new ones, Todd applied for a clerical job at the Dunes Hotel Casino — and as management had almost certainly planned, she was fired shortly thereafter, likely because she fulfilled a head count to satisfy the decree for that accounting period. But after being released, Todd completed all the tasks on her desk. And unlike a few others, did not tell her manager where to go. Instead, she went to the Desert Inn, used her former manager at the Dunes as a reference, got a glowing recommendation, and never looked back.

Jackie Brantley came along a few years later when the clerical position she sought caused keen interest across the country. She prevailed and posed the race question during her interview — just to be sure that the process would be equitable. Brantley became secretary to both the head of promotions and the head of publicity at the Desert Inn Hotel Casino. When her bosses moved on to better positions, she became the head of both departments.

By 1975, Todd had become the Special Events Coordinator at the Desert Inn Resort and the following year moved to the Landmark Hotel Casino for her “perfect job”— Entertainment Director/Corporate Executive Assistant to the owners. Todd was among the upwardly mobile executives pictured in Ebony magazine, joining thousands of Blacks in hundreds of industries across the U.S.

Brantley loved her position and the freedom to work with other Blacks who were moving into jobs that allowed professional development and creativity. And she was also covered in Ebony. Over the years, Brantley worked for many stars and remembers Alex Haley and Muhammad Ali as two that she worked closely with over the years. Both women are still in town and have many great stories to share.

Their experiences beg the question: “What took so long?” Or better yet: “What is taking so long?”

Next month: we profile Roosevelt Toston, first Black at the LVCVA and much more.

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