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Sarann Knight Preddy

Sarann Knight Preddy was born on July 27, 1920, in the small town of Eufaula, Oklahoma, to Carl and Hattie Chiles. Knight Preddy married her first husband, Luther Walker, just out of high school. In 1942, she and her family moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, settling in the black community on the West Side. Preddy took her first job at the Cotton Club as a Keno writer and later became a dealer.

In 1950, Preddy moved to Hawthorne, Nevada, where she was offered the opportunity to purchase her own gambling establishment; her purchase made her the first African American woman to own a gaming license in Nevada. Preddy then purchased the Lincoln Bar, which she later renamed the Tonga Club; the club was successful in the small booming town, and she operated the establishment until her return to Las Vegas in 1957.

Preddy then worked as a dealer until a new ordinance prohibited women from being employed as dealers. During that time, Preddy operated several businesses including a dry cleaner, a dress shop, and a lounge. Once the ordinance was repealed, Preddy returned to work as a dealer at Jerry’s Nugget where she remained for seven years.

In 1990, Preddy turned her focus to restoring the previous glamour of Las Vegas’ first integrated casino; she and her third husband, Joe Preddy, purchased the Moulin Rouge. Despite their best efforts, they were unable to secure the financing needed and eventually sold the Moulin Rouge to a developer. Preddy made many contributions to the state of Nevada through her involvement with the NAACP; she also worked to preserve the history of Las Vegas through her efforts to place the Moulin Rouge on the National Register of Historic Places.

Preddy passed away on December 22, 2014 at the age of 94.

Sarann Knight Preddy was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 4, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.121

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/4/2007

Last Name

Preddy

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Dunbar High School

First Name

Sarann

Birth City, State, Country

Eufaula

HM ID

PRE03

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Oklahoma

Favorite Vacation Destination

California

Favorite Quote

Always Treat People The Way You Want To Be Treated.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Nevada

Birth Date

7/27/1920

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Las Vegas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sweets

Death Date

12/22/2014

Short Description

Gaming entrepreneur Sarann Knight Preddy (1920 - 2014 ) was the first African American woman to own a gaming license in Nevada, and dedicated the latter part of her career to trying to preserve the historic Las Vegas establishment, the Moulin Rouge.

Employment

The Cotton Club

The Tonga Club

The Louisiana Club

Town Tavern

Jerry's Nugget Casino

Sarann's Fashions

Sarann's Cleaners

Ruben's Supper Club

Playhouse Lounge

Moulin Rouge Hotel

People's Choice Casino

Favorite Color

Bright Colors, Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sarann Knight Preddy's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sarann Knight Preddy lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sarann Knight Preddy describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sarann Knight Preddy describes her maternal great-grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sarann Knight Preddy describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sarann Knight Preddy talks about her parents' marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sarann Knight Preddy talks about changing her name

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sarann Knight Preddy describes her mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sarann Knight Preddy recalls her father's occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Sarann Knight Preddy describes her home life

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sarann Knight Preddy describes her community in Eufaula, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sarann Knight Preddy recalls her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sarann Knight Preddy reflects upon her upbringing on a Native American reservation

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sarann Knight Preddy talks about the Great Depression

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sarann Knight Preddy remembers Dunbar High School in Okmulgee, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sarann Knight Preddy recalls her teachers at Dunbar High School in Okmulgee, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sarann Knight Preddy describes her first marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sarann Knight Preddy remembers moving to Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Sarann Knight Preddy describes segregation in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Sarann Knight Preddy recalls her start at the Cotton Club in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sarann Knight Preddy remembers Pearl Bailey

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sarann Knight Preddy describes the entertainers of Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sarann Knight Preddy remembers the Moulin Rouge Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sarann Knight Preddy recalls purchasing the Tonga Club in Hawthorne, Nevada

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sarann Knight Preddy talks about nonrestrictive gaming licenses

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sarann Knight Preddy recalls her decision to sell the Tonga Club

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sarann Knight Preddy describes her role in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sarann Knight Preddy remembers the growth of Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Sarann Knight Preddy describes the history of the Moulin Rouge Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Sarann Knight Preddy remembers Joe Louis

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sarann Knight Preddy describes the Westside neighborhood of Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sarann Knight Preddy recalls the difficulty of moving to Las Vegas, Nevada, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sarann Knight Preddy recalls the difficulty of moving to Las Vegas, Nevada, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sarann Knight Preddy describes career as a dealer in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sarann Knight Preddy recalls working at Jerry's Nugget Casino in North Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sarann Knight Preddy recalls campaigning for city council in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sarann Knight Preddy describes her transition from keno writer to dealer

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sarann Knight Preddy recalls opening the People's Choice Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Sarann Knight Preddy reflects upon the Civil Rights Movement in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Sarann Knight Preddy talks about her ownership of the Moulin Rouge Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sarann Knight Preddy remembers the deaths of her family members

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sarann Knight Preddy recalls being injured in a car accident

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sarann Knight Preddy describes Sarann's Fashions and Sarann's Cleaners in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sarann Knight Preddy recalls the obstacles to acquiring a gaming license, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sarann Knight Preddy recalls the obstacles to acquiring a gaming license, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sarann Knight Preddy recalls her experiences of discrimination as a business owner in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sarann Knight Preddy recalls her decision to close the Moulin Rouge Hotel

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sarann Knight Preddy describes her organizational involvement

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Sarann Knight Preddy talks about organized crime in the gaming industry

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sarann Knight Preddy describes the transition from silver dollars to chips in casinos

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sarann Knight Preddy talks about corruption in the gaming industry

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sarann Knight Preddy reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sarann Knight Preddy remembers her fifth husband, Joe Preddy

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sarann Knight Preddy shares a message to future generations

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Sarann Knight Preddy recalls continuing her education

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Sarann Knight Preddy talks about religion and the gaming industry

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Sarann Knight Preddy recalls lessons from the gaming industry

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Sarann Knight Preddy describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Sarann Knight Preddy reflects upon her spirituality

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

1$7

DATitle
Sarann Knight Preddy remembers Pearl Bailey
Sarann Knight Preddy describes her role in the Civil Rights Movement
Transcript
Before we go on to how people left from the Westside [Las Vegas, Nevada] to come to the Strip [Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada], I was asking you about other people that you knew. You talked about Sammy Davis [Sammy Davis, Jr.] and his family and what about Pearl Bailey?$$Pearl Bailey was playing on the strip but she used to come--well she had to come on the Westside all the time. She liked to party and gamble but she was a very down to earth person 'cause I remember this friend of mine was serving her some champagne and she wanted to put it in a glass and she wouldn't accept it out of there she said, "Just give me a water glass or something, I don't need this champagne glass." She had a friend just a casual friend and they used to gamble all the time and she was over at one table gambling and he was at the next table. So, you know, people back in the day and they even do that now they get so serious when they're gambling, "Don't bother me and if you talk to me that's why I lost because you talked to me." So this friend hollered over and told her, "Give me some money I'm broke." So she just--it was all silver during that time--she reached into her stacks and got a handful of silver and threw it to him like this and when she did and she didn't mean to do it but when she threw it, it hit him in the eye. They were really close friends and he sued her and well after that they weren't ever friends anymore. That was one incident that happened that I remember. During that time the Cotton Club [Las Vegas, Nevada] had a boat and it was on wheels and whenever on Sundays some days they would decide to go to the lake and everybody would have a picnic and we'd all go to the lake and everybody would ride in this boat on wheels but me. Not everybody but my little gang and I would always go in a car 'cause when you go to the lake and you get there the car didn't stop, it just went on in the lake 'cause it was a boat on wheels. I always afraid of water anyway, so I'd never get on this boat. But Pearl Bailey used to go with the gang whenever she was in town also. She was a regular and she was a very good entertainer, very congenial person. She was one of the ones that stand out in my mind and that she was a super person to be around and a number of others that I know--$Did you have any involvement in civil rights in 1950, '55 [1955] and '60 [1960] starts some civil rights action?$$Yes because when I--I worked very close with the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] and I was involved with all the things that they did here when they got the consent decree and when they were integrated for Las Vegas [Nevada] to be integrated, I worked along with that and I have a lot of history back on a lot of the things I did do and I worked with it when I was in Hawthorne [Nevada]. I was the president of the NAACP when I was in Hawthorne and I worked along--the chapter up there along with Las Vegas and you know I guess it's okay to skip and go back. When I was in Hawthorne and I had the club there [Tonga Club, Hawthorne, Nevada] I was kind of like the halfway point to Carson City [Nevada] and people used to come to my place and meet up and then we'd go to Carson City when we was fighting for integration and so forth. I remember when we went to Carson City they had a little room about a fourth big as this and they called it the Buzzard Roost [ph.] and this is where when we went to the legislation session it would hold about ten or twelve people and that's where we had to sit. You had to bend over to get in this little place to sit to watch the legislation session. 'Cause I was young and cocky and I used to say all the time, they can go down and pass a law to run all of us out of town and we can't do anything about it. We're sitting out here looking, we don't have no voice, we didn't have no people involved in politics or anything. But then that's why we were working to change things and finally we got someone was elected to the legislation session and it was a long story behind getting integrated in Las Vegas 'cause Dr. McMillan [James B. McMillan] was the person that really spearhead this and I worked closely with him at NAACP, I was his vice president for a long time. He was the head of everything but I organized a lot of clubs. I was the first person to organize a women's NAACP women's club throughout the country they hadn't even done that in other places. And then we were like a support group too, the NAACP and then when I organized I included a lot of white groups and we used to have teas and fundraisers together out at the convention center, because during that time blacks couldn't do anything out there but just work. And, and I remember I was a member of Gamma Phi Delta Sorority when it first started and that's been about thirty-nine years ago. We used to have our Ebony fashion show [Ebony Fashion Fair] on the Strip [Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada] and I think we were the first persons to go out there that could use something in the hotels 'cause we used to have for the NAACP convention we used to have to use the convention center and then we used a place up at the country club. We used the churches and I had another business and we used to use my business. I had a cleaners and this is where everybody met at my place so that's why I would come to be so well known, I guess because I was always in the mix. And I would always make trips to Carson City and load busses of people to go up there to do whatever we were doing trying to get that legislation passed on certain things so it could be integrated in Las Vegas.