Life on the Westside

Seeing the African-American enclave through the lens of professional photographer Clinton Wright

UNLV History| Jun 27, 2017|By

Aaron Mayes Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali (then referred to as Cassius Clay) speak with regional school kids at Highland Grade school on Nov. 4, 1965. (UNLV University Libraries Unique Collections and Archives)

Editor’s Note:

An exhibition of images chosen from the Clinton Wright Photograph Collection at UNLV University Libraries Special Collections & & Archives is on display screen in the Florence “Flo” Mlynarczyk Gallery on the third flooring of Lied Library.

Checking out the black-and-white negatives that comprise the Clinton Wright Photo Collection in UNLV University Libraries Special Collections and Archives, you can get a sense of a photographer who was proud of his neighborhood. His pictures reveal a type of pride that is subtle and genuine. His images are exposing.

In the 1960s and 1970s Wright, a photographer living and working in Las Vegas’ Westside neighborhood, recorded African-American life in Southern Nevada. His work brings the Westside alive and gives us an unprecedented look into the community. His images are filled with hopes and aspirations: a mom signing her children up for school; boys racing the skate cages they made; a class decked out in their Sunday best. Each image draws back the veil on a neighborhood long on history, however short on good visuals.

A graduate of University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Wright got here in Las Vegas in 1959 during a time of deep partition within the city. While residing on the Westside, Wright worked as a portrait and wedding event professional photographer, and later on began striving the Las Vegas Voice newspaper. He wed in 1972 and had two children. Wright and his better half, Joyce, presently resides in Texas after leaving Las Vegas in 2010 to be closer to their grandchildren.

Wright went back to Las Vegas in February for the best of the Vegas PBS documentary African Americans: The Las Vegas Experience, which featured much of his pictures. He was invited by the University Libraries to the premiere of the documentary at the Historical Westside School.

Wright initially donated his negatives to Unique Collection and Archives as part of” Documenting the African American Experience in Las Vegas.” Conversations are ongoing to bring in more of his work to UNLV University Libraries.

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