Dr. Bob Bailey

Nevada Equal Rights Commission's first chair

Honorary Commission Chair William "Bob" Bailey


"Education is the light that blinds ignorance."

Commissioner Bob Bailey was the first appointed Commissioner Chair to the Nevada Equal Rights Commission in 1962 by Governor Grant Sawyer. In the 1960s, Commissioner Bailey was well known for his activism in Las Vegas' African American community to end discrimination in housing, employment and public places. His work influenced the desegregation of Las Vegas Hotels in 1960. Prior to his efforts to end state segregation, African American performers including Sammy Davis Jr., and Lena Horne were not allowed to equally enjoy or relax in the very casinos or restaurants they would perform in. For residents of color, there were few restaurants or casino establishments in Carson City or Las Vegas where they were permitted to dine. In his role as Chair, Bailey challenged employers and entities that engaged in discriminatory practices.

A friend and college mate to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bailey’s focused efforts to end segregation in Nevada lives on today and benefits countless Nevadans and guests, ensuring state protections foster equal enjoyment, employment and housing regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability and age.

Bailey's accomplishments in Nevada included:

  • Working with Operation Independence and the Stardust Hotel's casino management to create the first joint training program for African American casino dealers.
  • Starting an on-the-job training program for marginalized groups at Circus Circus.
  • Developing a radio training school for African American youth.
  • Working with the Clark County Economic Opportunity Board to create a card dealers' training school for marginalized communities.

In 1990, President George Bush appointed Bailey to serve as deputy director of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency. Bailey spent four years overseeing the operations and budgets of about 200 national agencies.

In May 2013, at the UNLV commencement ceremony, both Bob and his beautiful wife, Anna Bailey received UNLV’s highest honor, the Distinguished Nevadan Award.

For more information on Chair Bailey, go to: https://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/william-bob-bailey-41

Bob Bailey

Dr. William H. "Bob" Bailey

Sources: Bailey family, The History Makers, Las Vegas Sun (May 26, 2014), Nevada Equal Rights Commission