Sammy Davis Jr., Other Cultural Icons To Be Honored in Las Vegas Neon Museum

By | November 30, 2021

Nevada’s Neon Museum is installing an 808 square-foot mural honoring diverse communities and individuals who impacted Las Vegas’ cultural history. “Las Vegas Luminaries,” will highlight showgirls, designers, headliners, and civil rights leaders.

Sammy Davis Jr.
Sammy Davis Jr., pictured above. He is among the Las Vegas cultural icons to be honored in a new mural at Nevada’s Neon Museum. (Image: Getty Images)

Eleven icons will be represented in the museum’s North Gallery. Notably, the mural includes Sammy Davis Jr., the famed singer, dancer, actor, comedian, and civil rights activist. He was also known as a member of the Rat Pack.

Other featured are Theodora Boyd, an African American showgirl from the Moulin Rouge, and backup dancer for Cab Calloway’s band. Paul Revere Williams, a Black architect who designed the La Concha Motel, will also be featured.

Others include members of the LGBTQ community, as well as the Native American community and the Latino community.

It is being installed by Nanda Sharif-pour and Ali Fathollahi. By next month, it should be completed.

Vegas’ Underrepresented Black History

Promotion of Las Vegas’ diversity is long overdue, according to Frank Rudy Cooper, William S. Boyd Professor of Law and director at UNLV’s Program on Race, Gender & Policing.

This is an important initiative,” Cooper told Casino.org. “Las Vegas is known to be one of the most diverse cities in the U.S.A.  That should be reflected in our public art, because art can be both a representation of who we are and an image of where we are heading,”

Claytee White, director of the Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries, echoed this thought.

“Most Black history is ‘lesser-known history,’” White told Casino.org. 

The mural is an important stepping in correcting this, White added. While the mural will also help others better understand Vegas’ diverse history, it will also other to take a deeper look at other People of Color who continued to all walks of life.

This new mural will allow us to think in a new way about the place and space of Blacks, Latinx, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans in our city,” White told Casino.org.

She, too, agrees more needs to be done to honor the contributions of the diverse communities of Las Vegas.

“We are a diverse city in numbers, but not in service to those numbered. We take the credit for being the most diverse city, the most diverse school system, the most diverse whatever you happen to be counting. But local and state governments, businesses, and school systems are just beginning to be spheres of those people, by those people, for those people.”

Neon Museum Pledge to Underrepresented History

“The Neon Museum is committed to telling the stories of Las Vegas’ underrepresented heroes and communities,” said Aaron Berger, Neon Museum’s executive director. “While no wall is large enough to include everyone, this mural will beautifully celebrate some lesser-known stories of our city’s history and encourage dialogue.”

As of 2019 statistics, the total population of Nevada by race/ethnicity broke down to 48.2 percent white, Hispanic at 29.2 percent, 9.3 percent black, American Indian/Alaska Native at 0.9 percent, and Asian/Pacific Islander at 8.9 percent.

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