- Associated Press - Monday, May 26, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A singer, TV host and Las Vegas civil rights trailblazer who was the first chairman of the Nevada Equal Rights Commission has died. William “Bob” Bailey was 87.

Bailey, who suffered Parkinson’s disease, died Saturday under hospice care, according to the Clark County Coroner’s Office.

Dr. Bailey was a dedicated leader and pioneer in areas of civil rights,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement Monday. “His contributions have made lasting impacts on both the city where he lived, as well as our great state as a whole.”

Born in Detroit in 1927, Bailey was raised in Cleveland and attended Morehouse College in Atlanta. He studied real estate and land law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas later in life, and received a Doctorate of Humane Letters at National University in 1987.

Bailey arrived in Las Vegas in 1955 and rose to prominence as an emcee for the Tropi-Can-Can Revue at the Moulin Rouge casino. At the time, African-American musicians were allowed to perform in casinos, but were not allowed to stay in the hotels.

Along with others, Bailey helped negotiate an agreement in 1960 that de-segregated casinos, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

But the work was far from done after the accord. Gov. Grant Sawyer appointed Bailey in 1962 to chair the equal rights commission, where Bailey was responsible for conducting statewide hearings and subpoenaing business owners who continued to discriminate against blacks.

Starting in the 1950s and over several decades, Bailey worked as a host and broadcaster at Southern Nevada radio and TV stations.

He also advocated for economic opportunities for minorities through various organizations, and was appointed by President George Bush as deputy director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency in 1990.

In 2005, the William H. “Bob” Bailey Middle School opened in his honor in northwestern Las Vegas. According to the Sun, Bailey called it the proudest moment of his life.

Services for Bailey are scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Second Baptist Church in Las Vegas.

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