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Audio recording clip from interview with Ruby Duncan by Claytee White, March 2, 2007

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Part of an interview with Ruby Duncan conducted by Claytee White, March 2, 2013. Duncan talks about the Welfare Rights "sit-in" at the Palms Room at the Stardust Hotel with Mary Wesley and a group of children. Ruby and Mary were arrested and promptly released.

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Ruby Duncan oral history interview, 2007 February 13. OH-00501. [Audio recording] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevad


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You told me about the time that you guys sort of went into this man's office, Fallon's office, and you kidnapped him. I want to hear about the other two big things that you did like that, the political activism. Tell me about the day that you went to the Stardust. Oh, my god, that's the Welfare Rights’ thing. So that was before Operation Life? Yes, yes. That was the day that we had taken a busload of kids out and we let them into the Palms Room at the Stardust and they sat down. Everybody was moving or getting up. We took over the whole room. We were walking around-me and Mary. That's Mary Wesley? Uh-huh, Mary Wesley. Me and Mary was walking around, making sure that they would order right. The waitress would say, “What you want?” I want a hamburger and a milkshake. I said, “No, he don't want that; he just says that. He wants steak and lobster.” We ate-not we, because I didn't get a chance to eat. But the kids ate up all the lobsters. I don't know about the steak because, see, they have lobsters flown in every day. I think all hotels do to make sure they're fresh. I know every child in there had-and I told Mary, I said, “Mary, don't let nobody eat no hamburger up in here.” She said okay. So me and her walked and watched. They had to bring that steak and lobster to those kids. Boy, the kids said, ooh, we sure did eat good. Now, before they could leave out, the security guards were all around. They had locked the gates so we couldn't get out. How did they know that you weren't going to pay? I don't know. But anyway, when the kids get there and they're standing, I said, “What's wrong, Officer?” “Well, the kids can't go out until they pay.” I said, “Y'all going to let these kids stand here and pee on themselves?” I said, “These kids got to go to the bathroom.” Oh. They opened up the gates. And when they opened up that gate, the kids left out of there and the mothers were standing there. We had mothers standing out there and they know to go. They ran. They were gone before they could recognize they were gone. So who was left? Me and Mary. We were left and we were the ones that got arrested. When we got to the-oh, they were going to handcuff us. We told the police, “You don't have to handcuff us; we know we're going to jail. Come on, let's go.” Hey, we went on out there, got in the wagon and went on to the jailhouse. They took us in, took us up there and did what they were going to do us, fingerprint us and everything and then took us up and put us in a cell. “Ooh, I'm so tired. Mary, ooh, I'm tired.” I sat down and went to pull my dress off-oh, no. The lady brought it. She said, “Here, here's your uniform you're going to wear.” I said okay. I went to pull off my dress to put on the uniform, she said, “Oh, no, no, no. No, don't pull your clothes off.” I said, “I can't put it on over.” She said, “You can't stay up in here.” I said, “What are you talking about? You just told us to-” “You will not stay in here; get up and come on, come on.” I said, “Where are we going now?” “You're going home, I guess.” I said, “Oh, my god, Mary, I don't understand.” She said, “Neither do I, but come on, let's get out of here.” So we went on out and got on the elevator. When we got down to the bottom Judge Reed-I said, “Mary, I hope nobody is down here with a machine gun.” Who is Judge Reed? Judge Reed was the black judge that died in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the judge here. He was the judge before judge-I don’t know; both of them might have been judges at the same time. But he was a black judge. He said, “Get off that elevator and come on here and let me take y'all home.” How did he know that you were down there? Because he released us. We got out and he took us over there where everybody else was and everybody said, “Hey, hey.” So now, and the newspapers must have interviewed you about that. How did you explain what had happened? To tell you the truth, I really don't know. I'm going to be fair with you. Because there was so much, there was so much going on at that time. I just explained to them that it was important for us to do what we did; to let them know that our children (need) fresh vegetables, fruit, food, meats, milk instead of the commodities we were getting. Now, I know I said that. Now, the rest is history.