by Mayme Johnson, Miller Karen E. Quinones
Al Capone may have ruled Chicago. Lucky Luciano may have run most of New York City. But from the 1930s to the late 1960s, when it came to Harlem, the undisputed king of the underworld was Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson. He was called an old-fashioned gentleman. He was called a pimp. A philanthropist and a thief. A scholar and a thug. A man who admonished children to stay in school, and a man who some say introduced heroin into Harlem.
Bumpy was a man whose contradictions are still the root of many an argument in Harlem. But there is one thing on which both his supporters and detractors agree in his lifetime, Bumpy was the man in Harlem.
If you wanted to do anything in Harlem, anything at all, you'd better stop and see Bumpy because he ran the place. Want to open a number spot on the Avenue? Go see Bumpy. Thinking about converting your brownstone into a speakeasy? Check with Bumpy first.
The police knew it they came to him to negotiate peace between young street gangs. The politicians knew it they counted on him to deliver votes on Election Day. Even the Italian and Jewish syndicate knew it, although they had to find out the hard way.
Paperback: 248 pages