Entertainer Freda Payne deals with racism, injustice over her decades' long career

Singer and actress Freda Payne has enjoyed the heights of success with her hit song 'Band of Gold'; she also had to face decades of racism, discrimination and injustice over her 60 year career.
GLENDALE (KABC) -- As part of our continuing coverage on the social justice movement, veteran singer and actress Freda Payne joined ABC7 via Skype to talk about the entertainment industry. This year marks the 50th anniversary of her giant hit song, 'Band of Gold'. And while she's enjoyed the heights the industry has to offer, she also had to experience racism and injustice along the way.

Payne recalled driving to Las Vegas from Detroit with her mother when she was just 17 years old. She was proud to be joining the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

"We arrived in Vegas and couldn't find a hotel room anywhere on the strip," remembered Payne. "We saw signs that said 'vacancy' but then we'd go in and they'd say no! Finally we saw an African American man and he said 'ma'am don't you know? They don't allow us colored folks to stay on the strip.' This was 1961."

The Payne's quickly learned that all of the black entertainers had to stay on the west side of town, away from the Las Vegas strip where they worked every night.

In the 1980's, Payne hosted the talk show, 'Today's Black Woman." The tackled issues of the day, interviewing politicians, civic leaders and popular personalities. She doesn't see that much has changed in all these years.

"No matter how far back we go, where we are now there's still problems," said Payne. "There's still the elephant in the room. We've come a long way but we haven't come far enough. There's got to be some rules and some legislation changed."

Watch the full interview in the video above.
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