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H. Zahra Caldwell

Harlem gangster, was born Ellsworth Raymond Johnson in Charleston, South Carolina. He acquired the nickname “Bumpy” as a boy when his parents discovered a small marble-sized bump on the back of his head. This bump was simply an accident of birth, but it would provide Ellsworth with the nickname by which he would be known throughout his life. Little is known of Johnson's parents or childhood; however, by the age of fifteen he had moved to Brooklyn, New York, to live with an aunt. He finished high school and at sixteen he moved to Harlem to live on his own. He was soon involved in a life of petty crime. By sixteen he could already be described as a stickup gunman and a second-story burglar.

At the age of seventeen Johnson was sent to a reformatory in Elmira NewYork This stay would serve as the beginning of nearly half ...

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Donny Levit

Harlem “policy queen” and advocate for immigrant and African American rights, was born in Martinique. She immigrated to New York via Marseilles, France. After settling in Harlem in 1913, she served as an advocate for renter's rights and fought to require police to have search warrants to enter a resident's home. She also became a passionate advocate for French-speaking immigrants in need of education and job opportunities. In 1922 St. Clair opened a successful “numbers” bank in Harlem.

According to the Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, the “numbers game” was a “pervasive form of gambling in African-American urban communities from around the turn of the century until the late 1970s” (Palmer, 2032 The numbers game also referred to as policy eventually folded in the 1970s with the advent of state lotteries and legal gambling Playing the numbers initially involved placing a bet on the last three ...