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An interview with Ruby Duncan, welfare activist (aired 2012)

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Duncan
UNLV Special Collections

Photograph of Ruby Duncan, president of the Clark County Welfare Rights Organization who led nationally publicized marches on the Las Vegas Strip in 1971.

Originally aired: March 14,2012

We're doing a summer series, looking back at some of the interesting people and topics we've talked about on State of Nevada over last several years.


Orphaned by age 4, a school dropout by the ninth grade, and a cotton-picker in rural Louisiana, Ruby Duncan moved to Las Vegas for a better life. Instead, she found her aunt living with other poor African Americans in a cardboard shack in the desert. 

But when Nevada cut welfare aid by 75%, and left her a single mother with six kids in 1971, Duncan decided to take action. 

She rallied local mothers to demonstrate and march on the Las Vegas Strip, and became one of the city's most vocal activists for women's and children's rights. 

Duncan joins us to talk about her longtime activism, and why her hardscrabble beginnings helped shape the woman she is today.

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Ruby Duncan, activist

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