He went from high school dropout to Clark County Commissioner. William McCurdy represents a growing population in Las Vegas and serves as a voice for the underserved.
In honor of Black History Month, 13 Action News anchor Abel Garcia introduces us to William McCurdy and the role he plays in our valley.
Las Vegas native, William McCurdy II, is currently the only African American, Clark County Commissioner with a seat at the table where decisions are being made that will impact millions.
PROVIDING FOR THE UNDERSERVED
"The mission is making sure we provide as much as possible to our underserved communities as we provide to the communities that are affluent," says McCurdy II.
He has worked to improve education, economic development and the needs of his Black community. Providing aid to places like the Historic Westside, where back in the 1940s, the core of Las Vegas' Black community opened stores and restaurants.
"Making sure that I bring voice to many of our residents who essentially feel like they have been left out," says McCurdy II.
"But in this neighborhood on the Historic Westside near Lake Mead and J St. is where McCurdy's story begins. He says he spent most of his childhood in this area where he was first exposed to the issues of our community," says Abel.
"Hearing gunshots every night, bullets hitting my house, police sirens all the time, that is a traumatic situation for a child who is growing up in an impossible situation," says McCurdy II.
Growing up in a low-income family, he says he struggled and made his fair share of mistakes.
"I didn't do everything right. I was a high school dropout, at 16, I was a teenage father, I didn't get my high school diploma," says McCurdy II.
While were visiting near McCurdy's childhood home, his father William McCurdy, a public servant in the community, stepped out and shared his thoughts on raising McCurdy. He says his son faced many obstacles, but was a born leader.
"I admire him because he wanted to be a provider for his children, so he thought he had to drop out and take care of his family and the Lord blessed him to go back to school," says McCurdy.
He got his high school diploma at 24, received his Associates from the College of Southern Nevada and found his passion in student government. He eventually ran for the Nevada State Legislature, going on to represent Assembly District 6, which includes his hometown.
He became the first African American and youngest chair for the Nevada State Democratic party and in 2021 he was sworn into office as a Clark County Commissioner. Through it all, he says he's used his childhood experiences to help him become the public servant he is today.
"Every statistic that you can think about for a black youth in this society, I checked every box, but everything I went through during that period of time was preparing me for where I am today," says McCurdy II.
"William is about change; he is about work and don't even stop if you aren't going to finish," says his mother, Billy McCurdy.
His parents gave me a tour of his childhood room, showing off his trophies. Although, what they're really proud of is the work he's done for the Historic Westside, like his Legacy Park project.
But his father admits there's more work to be done.
STRIVING TO REBUILD
"William knows the History of West Las Vegas and he is striving to try to rebuild the history of West Las Vegas," says McCurdy.
McCurdy II says he plans to do everything he can to continue helping our Black community and improving the lives of all Southern Nevadans.
"We can not celebrate Black History and recognize the contributions of Black Americans in America or recognize the humanity that is needed for the Black person in America without holding ourselves accountable," says McCurdy II.
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