The Economic Opportunity Board of Las Vegas was on the front lines of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.
Created in 1965 as part of the Great Society, “the EOB” as it was known, offered a storefront approach to fostering economic opportunities. Fifty years ago that included having a mock casino to prepare black Las Vegans for jobs in the gaming industry as segregation was ending on the Strip.
The EOB became the biggest anti-poverty organization in the state, providing child care and offering GED classes along with job training.
“That meant that monies from the federal government began to flow into the city into Clark County to train people in various categories,” UNLV oral historian Claytee White told KNPR's State of Nevada.
White said with the grant money from the federal government teenagers could get job training for summer jobs while adults could get training for jobs that were in demand.
“There was lots of money coming into the city to break that cycle of poverty,” she said.
When the consent decree that brought down the barriers for African Americans to get jobs in casinos, White said they were ready for those jobs.
“When the consent decree came along, yes, African Americans were prepared for those jobs," she said.
While the EOB grants helped, White said it was never properly funded and by 1969 people were disillusioned, which is partly why there were riots in Las Vegas that year.
Claytee White, UNLV oral historian
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