Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009 | 2:04 a.m.
This past week our community lost one of its most effective community activists — Florence McClure. Shortly after moving to Las Vegas, McClure began what would become a long and productive career in community service and activism on behalf of women’s issues.
From the beginning, she took an active leadership role in a number of political organizations, including the League of Women Voters. She traveled with Jean Ford to the Nevada Legislature to learn how to become a citizen lobbyist and was a tenacious advocate from then on.
Florence’s most lasting legacy resulted from her tireless efforts on behalf of rape victims. In 1973 she co-founded Community Action Against Rape, which is now the Rape Crisis Center. She worked diligently to increase the sensitivity of law enforcement and medical workers toward victims of assault. From police sensitivity training to rape kits in hospitals and increased funding, treatment of rape victims in Clark County improved dramatically.
She lobbied the governor and the Legislature to change the site of the proposed women’s prison from rural Nevada to Clark County so inmates could be nearer to their families to help them in rehabilitation. The prison was eventually constructed in North Las Vegas and opened in September 1997. State lawmakers renamed the Southern Nevada Women’s Correctional Facility the Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center.
She was dubbed “Hurricane Florence” because of her energy and tremendous efforts on behalf of women’s issues. Many of us who knew Florence McClure have been inspired to follow in her footsteps and hope that other women will read of her accomplishments and become active in our community so that her legacy will continue on.
The writer is president of the League of Women Voters of Las Vegas Valley.