Kiki Toussaint is a Haitian-American artist with an interesting origin story on her life as a painter. A native of New York, Toussaint grew up in New York with parents who insisted on honoring their culture.
“When I was young and living with my parents, I never really thought I was in the United States until I walked out our front door,” she said. “Everything in our home at the time — music, food art on the walls — was Haitian. [Then] my parents moved from New York back to Haiti when I was 11, and that’s where I lived out the rest of my childhood.”
Fluent in both French and Haitian Creole, Toussaint had always worked with crafts before discovering her talents as a painter. It wasn’t until a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in 2010 that Toussaint uncovered the artist within.
“It’s an interesting story, how I began to paint — and it’s one that was birthed out of sorrow,” she said. “I remember watching CNN, and hearing about the horrible earthquake in Haiti — my home.
I was so devastated that I couldn’t get a flight out of Las Vegas to go back there to make sure my father was okay. They were only allowing medical technicians and doctors into Haiti at the time, and all I could do is watch CNN to see if I could see my dad walking in the background of camera shots. In the back of my mind I knew that my dad, a Vietnam Veteran, would be okay — and it wasn’t until two weeks later that we learned he had died in the earthquake. It was really tough. So, I starting drawing the Haitian flag over and over and eventually painted images of Haiti that reminding me of home. I never considered myself a painter and had never really painted until then. I think it was the gift my dad gave to me when he passed.”
As a self-taught painter, Toussaint is captivated by images of women whose physical features help tell the story of their lives.
“I noticed a photo of a Haitian lady on Facebook one day, and I found it to be very interesting,” she said. “I gave it a shot and started to recreate her in a painting. I initially thought it would be simple because Haitian art is so primitive. But it wasn’t — and I had to keep at it until I got it right. I just kept enhancing it until the painting came to life and looked professional. That is when I knew I had something and indeed mastered the art of painting.”
Toussaint’s art is now available at the Bottle Art Gallery in Tivoli Village — and will soon be available at galleries inside the Venetian and Aria hotels on the Las Vegas Strip.
When asked what would be her advice to others who desire to paint professionally she said, “The best thing I can suggest to others who want to paint is to draw what you see — not what you expect to see. Everyone understands that an eye is like an oval shape and a circle on the inside. We think that we should draw a circle inside and make an oval around it. Well, don’t do that — because then you are sourcing the image instead of copying what you see. For example, I painted an older white woman from Havana, Cuba with a cigar. She is actually a real person in Cuba who makes money by taking photos with tourists. I found her fascinating and hope to have her same uniqueness when I grow old. She is so eclectic and I love her cockiness.”
For more information, go to: www.KiKi-Toussaint.com or email at KikiTous@gmail.com.
Before integration, “The Westside” was home for African-Americans in Las Vegas. Longtime residents still reminisce about the prosperity and opportunity that defined the neighborhood in the middle of the last century — and the presence of so many churches has helped preserve a newer generation’s relationship to the historic community.
Still, many still wonder why economic development and beautification that has touched communities across Nevada has not come to the Westside — sparking theories that it has been left dilapidated and rundown so that private developers and government entities can buy up land and use it in ways that do not benefit the community.
Those concerns are central to the origin story of The Jackson St. Movement — an organization formed to preserve and build economic wealth back in the Historic Westside, with a goal of restoring it as an emblem of black prosperity.
Said Otis Lang, longtime resident and core member of the Jackson St. Movement: “There is a saying: ‘Like minds think alike and will come together.’ That is why myself, Henry “Hen Hen” Thorns, Lester Johnson and Michael Elliott came together and decided that we needed to be proactive and make sure that the Historic Westside received better care. I have been in Las Vegas for 52 years, and remember the times when the Westside flourished with businesses, barbershops, restaurants and more. It was the place to be. Jackson Street was our black community corridor, with casinos like The Town Tavern, El Rio, and People’s Choice. Everyone would congregate in the area, and it would be packed with people and cars. It was a beautiful time. We have never forgotten that time, and now we are committed to holding responsible entities accountable for forgetting about our neighborhood, and being hands-on to give it the attention it needs. It is sad to see the redevelopment of the Las Vegas downtown area that is so close to the Historic Westside, but no monies have been equally invested in the area.”
Members of the Jackson St. Movement are receiving community support — and recently set a goal of resurrecting and redeveloping the Walker Museum.
“We have participated in helping to rebuild the Walker Museum and assisting owner Gwen Walker with reestablishing it in the Historic Westside,” said Lang. “The museum houses many historic artifacts, documents, and photos of the black community — and we are helping to support fundraisers to refurbish it as a major landmark for Las Vegas’ black history. It is our hope to bring awareness to the area, and to try to buy some of the land back and rebuild industries that will create jobs and opportunities for residents in the Historic Westside.”
We remember everyone who lost their lives in the massacre during the Route 91 Harvest festival on the Las Vegas Strip. Our thoughts are also with all of the survivors and every family affected by the horrific rampage. Always #VegasStrong!
LETTER FROM BLACK IMAGE
It has been a blessing to publish Las Vegas Black Image Magazine for a decade — and we are looking forward to many more years of celebrating African-American excellence in Nevada and beyond.
On the tenth anniversary of this remarkable publication, we want to first express gratitude to our Lord and Savior. We would also like to thank the thousands of loyal readers, all of our advertisers, and the people whose stories have been told in the pages of this magazine. And none of it would be possible without the amazing and tireless team of writers, editors, and designers who have been indispensable to the mission of showcasing the greatest city in the world.
The support and participation of the community has been nothing short of extraordinary. Las Vegas, we love you — and can’t wait to see what the next 10 years will bring.
This month, our focus turns to spending time with family, offering thanks, and giving back. It is also a good time to give yourself and your loved ones the gift of budget-appropriate health insurance coverage.
Progressive entrepreneurs are often caught in the gap — lacking employer- offered insurance coverage, but exceeding the income requirements for Medicaid. Nevada Health Link (www. NevadaHealthLink.com) bridges that gap by connecting you with coverage options that meet your health and budgetary needs.
This year, open enrollment begins Nov. 1 and ends at midnight Dec. 15, 2017. There are some fast and convenient ways for you to enroll:
If there was ever a time in our community to have a conversation about transit and improved transit options, it’s now. As we anticipate substantial increases in resident and visitor growth, our community needs to have a long-term transit vision that can help ensure the safe and efficient movement of people throughout Southern Nevada.
The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) is working on a long-term vision called On Board, Southern Nevada’s comprehensive transit plan. The RTC needs your input, which will help determine enhanced transit services that will address current and future growth.
To date, the RTC has received comments from residents, business owners, community leaders and transit riders. For example, College of Southern Nevada (CSN) student Azanaé Tooke attends classes at the North Las Vegas and Charleston campuses. She uses several bus routes to travel to school, get to an internship and visit her family throughout the valley.
“I believe that light rail would be a great option for the city,” said Tooke.
Joseph Glover, a 35-year old Green Valley resident, single father and small-business owner, added, “Las Vegas is a 24-hour town, but sometimes it can be difficult to get around town when I need to.”
Dalisa Steward, a single mother and North Las Vegas resident, has used public transit since high school. She has since purchased a vehicle but rides the bus when her car is inoperable.
The RTC wants more people like Tooke, Glover and Steward to provide their input and make their voices heard on the future of transit in Southern Nevada. What improvements would you make to the current transit system? What new services would you add and where? And what emerging transit technologies are of interest to you?
On Board is the community’s plan – your plan. Your input will shape the future of Southern Nevada’s transit system. Visit OnBoardSNV.com to provide your feedback and learn more.
ASKED AND ANSWERED: KATHERINE DUNCAN | SCOTT JOHNSON
If you’ve ever lived in Las Vegas, you’ve heard it before: “The Moulin Rouge is coming back.” The historic site on Bonanza — where America’s first integrated hotel and casino once stood — has been defined less by sensible land use and more by a rotating cast of owners, political intrigue, bankruptcies, legal drama, mysterious fires, and a general sense of disappointment.
Even though the property is prime real estate with deep history as a source of black community pride, the Moulin Rouge site has been so troubled that it was awarded to the court and a receiver — even though it has long been sought by private sector developers, investors, community organizations and governmental entities. Recently, the property receiver accepted a bid of $6.2 million from Clark County — derailing the efforts of local developer, Scott Johnson, and Ward 5 Chamber of Commerce’s Harrison House Community Development
Corporation (CDC) to buy the land and develop a Moulin Rouge project. We spoke to Johnson, and Ward 5 Chamber of Commerce President Katherine Duncan about aspirations to buy the property and bring the Moulin Rouge Hotel and Casino back to life.
So, Clark County won the bid to buy the Moulin Rouge property site?
Duncan: The Moulin Rouge property has not been sold yet. It is still in the hands of the court. Clark County won the bid to buy the Moulin Rouge property, but their purchase has to be approved by the people.
How does the sale of the property get approved by the people?
Duncan: Clark County has to have a public comment period. I am not sure when that will take place. Clark County has to put this on their agenda so the public can comment on it.
So, who approves the sale of the property to Clark County?
Duncan: It has to be approved by the Clark County Commissioners.
Yeah, but isn’t it Clark County who is buying the property?
Duncan: Yes, Clark County is buying it. But, Clark County staff can’t buy property without the approval from the County Commissioners.
Where does the County Commissioners stand on the purchase of the Moulin Rouge property by Clark County?
Duncan: I don’t know. This is why I have been trying to get in touch with County Commissioners to find out why is the county buying the Moulin Rouge property in the first place. And what does Clark County plan on doing with it? Also, why didn’t Clark County come to Ward 5 Chamber of Commerce and ask if we would want them to buy it? And the bigger question is, “Why did they feel it necessary to outbid a private sector bidder?”
Who did Clark County outbid?
Duncan: Clark County outbid four private sector developers who are either black owned or have black owned participation.
How long have you been working on the revitalization of the Historic Moulin Rouge Hotel and Casino?
Duncan: Ward 5 Chamber of Commerce organization has been working on it since December 2015. I personally helped everybody else who tried to redevelop it before that. I never took on the project by myself. I was always there assisting the Moulin Rouge Preservation Association with Dr. Sarah Anne Knight Preddy and Alice Key. We were trying to redevelop the Historic Moulin Rouge as a non-profit and I assisted up until Ms. Knight Preddy died. The Moulin Rouge Preservation Association dissolved after she passed.
Where do your efforts go from here now that Clark County has won the bid to buy the Moulin Rouge property?
Duncan: I think we can push them back. I intend to stand up to the county along with: retired State Assemblyman Harvey Munford who will campaign to be our new Ward 5 City Councilman, the African American workers union, and the community to stop the county from taking over our last chance to develop an African American-themed resort in Las Vegas. We have to stop it. Dr. Sarah Ann Knight Preddy and Alice Key’s spirits will roll over if we allow this to happen.
It has been reported that the County has plans to build social service administrative offices on the historic Moulin Rouge land, along with a space dedicated to remembering the Moulin Rouge.
Duncan: Doesn’t that break your heart? And we don’t intend to let the county do that. As a matter of fact we don’t intend to let the county own the land. We intend to protest the county taking the land … from private developers. So we have assembled a group that has the financial means and know-how to develop properties. Why should the land be used for another welfare office? We have enough homeless people over here and we need to create some economic development opportunities so people can get to work.
What is your vision for the Moulin Rouge redevelopment?
Duncan: The County could acquire the Moulin Rouge land and give it to the Harrison House Community Development Corporation for $1. And if the Community Development Corporation owns the land, we can develop the property to benefit the community.
We want to bring back the Moulin Rouge Hotel and Casino the way it was, and establish front house casino training opportunities. We would also like support to develop a Black Visitors and Tourism Bureau and market Las Vegas to black people from around the world.
We interviewed you back in May when you had a ground breaking at Moulin Rouge land site as the owner. What happened?
Johnson: Yes, well the deal to buy the Moulin Rouge property didn’t go through — because of outside interference from outside sources, our main investor pulled out. But we have regrouped with other investors and put our bid in and waiting to see what direction Clark County wants to go.
It is the understanding that Clark County won the bid at $6.2 million to buy the Moulin Rouge land?
Johnson: Yes, that is correct. Even though after the judge awarded the bid to Clark County they still have to go to the governor to ask for the funding.
The bid amount of $6.2 million is really not a lot of money for Clark County?
Johnson: No, it’s not a lot of money for them.
What is your vision for the Historic Moulin Rouge property site?
Johnson: I would like to join venture with Clark County and build the Moulin Rouge back up as a casino surrounded by a live, work, and play environment such as The District in Green Valley. I just want to build the project and have experts in the casino industry operate a revitalized establishment that will create employment opportunities.
What will you and your investors do if Clark County Commissioners vote yes for Clark County to buy the Moulin Rouge property site?
Johnson: I am not so sure about this.
Recently, Linda Stephens Woodson was honored as Best Lounge Performer at the 2017 Las Vegas Black Music Awards.
She is a fixture on the Strip, and her dearest friends make great co-stars in this series of incredible photographs.
BY YVETTE WILLIAMS
Right here in our own backyard, residents and visitors were horrified by the events of Oct. 1, 2017. While over 22,000 attendees were enjoying a beautiful night amongst the glimmering lights, concertgoers were attacked without warning — leaving 59 dead and over 500 injured.
As I stayed glued to my television, I thought of my own children and how vulnerable we are in today’s climate of violence. It impacts us all — regardless of where we live, our racial or ethnic background, financial status, or political influence. The Clark County Black Caucus addressed the issue recently, by hosting the Legacy of Violence in the African American Community Summit — in partnership with The Action Company and Like It Is Radio, with support from Legal Aid of Southern Nevada, NCEDSV, Gritz Café, NAACP, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
The African-American community has experienced a long history of violence — and as our country continues to heal, let’s never forget the horrific tragedy of mass shootings and killings that have targeted people of color. When the mass media referred to October 1 as the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, it struck a nerve with many Black people who asked on social media why their experiences remain invisible or irrelevant to American media and society.
For those who are unfamiliar with that history, here are a few examples: In 1917, a race riot in East St. Louis left up to 700 Black residents murdered — after they were given the option to burn in their homes or be shot while trying to escape the flames. In the Phillips County, Arkansas Massacre of 1919, an estimated 237 to 800 people were lynched, beaten, and killed. And in one of the largest incidents, it is estimated that 300 Black victims lost their lives in the Tulsa, Oklahoma Massacre of 1921. The Equal Justice Initiative observes, “Racial terror lynching was a tool used to enforce Jim Crow laws and racial segregation.”
My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families, and friends affected on October 1 and in other brutal attacks of violence around the world. We can each make a difference in how we choose to treat each other.
Yvette Williams is a community advocate and Chair/Founder of the Clark County Black Caucus, a non-partisan community organization driven 100% by volunteer members registered to vote. Follow her blog at www.YvetteBWilliams.com and on twitter @YvetteBWilliams or contact her at ClarkCountyBlackCaucus@gmail.com for more information.
Do you want to shed a few pounds and change your diet — but not sure where to start? If you are searching for foods that are good for weight loss, the list below is a good place to start.
Kale, collards, spinach and swiss chard have properties that help shed pounds. They are low in calories and carbohydrates but high in fiber. They’re also high in vitamins, minerals, calcium and antioxidants.
This oily fish has a significant amount of iodine and omega-3 fatty acids. These ingredients help to reduce inflammation.
Compared to other vegetables, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage have plenty of fiber and a decent amount of protein — which is very good for weight loss. They also contain cancer-fighting substances.
For a healthy diet, tuna is a great food because you will get high protein and low calories.
Black beans, lentils, kidney beans and legumes are beneficial for weight loss. These foods are high in protein, fiber and resistant starch.
Avocados contain a healthy fat. They also contain a lot of water, potassium and fiber. It is a perfect addition to your salads.
Research shows that eating a half of a grapefruit before a meal caused weight loss of about 3.5 pounds over 3 months.
To reach your weight loss goals, you should walk daily, plan your meals, be committed, and be patient. It takes time and effort — but it’s worth it!
If you have any questions about how you and your loved ones can stay healthy, send an email to email@example.com. You can also visit the Vegas Roots Community Garden to purchase fresh, life-giving vegetables straight from the source. For more information, go to vegasroots.org.