Three Weeks

Activists and academics point to the 1960 Winter Olympics as the catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Nevada. In 1954, when Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley) was selected as the site for the Winter Games, 40 miles across the border, Reno, Nevada stood ready as the gateway city, with a metropolitan airport, lodging and amenities to cater spectators and visitors from around the world.

At that time, Reno was heavily segregated and widely known as "the Mississippi of the West" with most businesses and casinos displaying "Whites Only" signs at eye level near their entrances. Civil Rights leaders recognized this critical opportunity to push for dramatic change, which ultimately led to the successful passage of the Nevada Civil Rights Act in 1965.

Director, Screenwriter, Editor: Nancy O’Connell
Primary Historical Consultant and Interviewee: Geralda MIller
Producer: Christopher von Nagy, Shared History Program, Department of History, University of Nevada, Reno
Cinematography and Sound, Assistant Editor: Kyle Weerheim
Sound Editing: Nicholas Gapp, @One, University of Nevada, Reno
Narrators: Paul Mitchell, Geralda Miller, Christopher von Nagy
Technical Support: Mark Gandolfo and Daniel Fergus, @One, University of Nevada, Reno

Other scholars consulted

Paul Mitchell, Reynolds School of Journalism, University of Nevada, Reno
Donnie Curtis, Research Instruction Librarian, Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno
Laura Rocke, Digital Access Archivist, Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno
Sean Dickerson, Curator, African American Museum and Library, Oakland Public Library
Peter Hanff, Director, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
Tim Noakes, Head of Public Services, Department of Special Collections, Stanford University

Images courtesy of University of Nevada, Reno Special Collections.

Olympic Rings in front of the winter valley in 1960

1960 Winter Olympic Rings

Olympic rings are being raised in the stadium at the 1960 Winter Olympics

Raising the Olympic Rings during construction

Semi Truck banner announcing Reno, Nevada as the gateway to the 1960 Winter Olympics

Reno, Gateway to the 1960 Winter Olympics sign in Reno near the Riverside Hotel