Caribbean Club

The Caribbean Club sounds (and looks) great at this time of the year. This photo (for sale on Ebay) was taken in June 1945.

Note the wrap-around balcony, and the dance barriers to keep dancers and diners from bumping into one another too much.

The location near 139/ACP is now given over to Harlem Discount, below an apartment building.

Queenie: Godmother of Harlem

A new graphic novel is out on Madame Stephanie St. Clair, a Harlem renaissance era numbers queen.

In stark black and white, the novel traces the rise and fall of Harlem’s most notorious Godmother.

St. Clair was an anomaly in a business clearly dominated by men, but she successfully carved out a position of power. An immigrant from Guadeloupe, in the West Indies, St. Clair was brilliant and nimble, outsmarting the many systems that made her success so implausible. She continuously called out the corrupt police and government and advocated for Harlem’s Black community. 

Black Cop

From 1969, a black and white report on the complexities of being a Black cop and the questions of allegiances – to the community (Central Harlem) or to the NYPD.

In 1969 only 6% of the NYPD were Black officers. Kent Garrett produced this piece. You can see the corner of Adam Clayton Powell Blvd and West 124th Street here (The Greater Refuge Church).

Madame St. Clair on the History Chanel

The History Chanel has an article on Harlem’s policy queen, Stephanie St. Clair who was a Harlem entrepreneur with a head for numbers and organization.

Like most African Americans in the early 20th century, Madame St. Clair found herself barred from traditional, white-dominated financial businesses like banking or investing. Instead, she made her fortune in the underground economy of the numbers racket. Fearlessly facing down corrupt cops and violent mobsters alike, she became one of the racket’s most successful operators, while channeling some of her money into legitimate ventures and working to support Harlem residents.