former gang enforcer, social and political activist, was born Wallace Bradley in Chicago, Illinois, the third of eleven children of Wallace Sr. and Eddie Mae Bradley. His father was a general labor foreman, and his mother was a homemaker. Bradley grew up in the Racine Courts housing project on Chicago's Southside in the Morgan Park community made famous by Lorraine Hansberry in her play, A Raisin in the Sun. He earned the moniker “Gator” from close friends and family, after the cartoon character “Wally Gator,” a name he preferred to Wallace. Bradley attended John D. Shoop Elementary School (now John D. Shoop Academy of Math, Science, and Technology) and had early aspirations of becoming an attorney. Upon graduating from Shoop he enrolled at Morgan Park High School, but was expelled in 1968 when, after the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ...
Bradley, Wallace “Gator”
SaFiya D. Hoskins
Coke, Christopher Michael “Dudus”
was born on 13 March 1969 in Kingston, Jamaica, allegedly to Lester Coke, the leader of the violent drug gang known as the “Shower Posse,” and his wife, Patricia Halliburton. Some journalists believe that Christopher Michael Coke was an adopted child, though Patricia Halliburton denied this shortly before her death. He was referred to as “Michael” in school, but the fact that Christopher Michael had a brother with the same first name may also speak to the idea that the parent who christened him may not have been either Lester Coke or Patricia Halliburton. According to court transcripts, Christopher Michael Coke also had another sister, Pamela, who lived in Tivoli Gardens and stored drugs in her apartment for him. She is otherwise unacknowledged as a member of the family in any published form, and her parentage thus remains uncertain, too.
Michael Coke began his life in the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood ...
Coke, Lester Lloyd “Jim Brown”
has not had his birth details published. He grew up on Milk Lane in Denham Town, a poor part of West Kingston in Jamaica. To residents, he was known as “Ba-Bye,” a friendly youth who held apprenticeships at various times as a welder, a cabinetmaker and a locksmith. Sometime around the age of 20, he married Patricia Halliburton, with whom he would have at least five children.
In Lester Coke s teens the homes in the nearby slum of Back O Wall were torn down to make way for a concrete housing project called Tivoli Gardens providing a vast material improvement in the circumstances of the residents in the area The project was led by Edward Seaga the Jamaican government s minister of development and welfare and the member of Parliament for West Kingston Seaga represented the Jamaican Labour Party JLP and his government stocked the rebuilt neighborhood with JLP ...
SaFiya D. Hoskins
gang and organization founder, criminal, was born Jeff Fort in Aberdeen, Mississippi, to John Lee Fort, a steel mill worker, and a mother about whom little information is available. In 1955 Jeff moved with his parents and ten siblings to the South Side of Chicago and settled down in Woodlawn, a middle-class white neighborhood prior to the influx of blacks migrating from the South, and the backdrop for Woodlawn native Lorraine Hansberry's play, A Raisin in the Sun. Jeff's father John Lee Fort had secured employment in a Chicago steel mill. Spurning hostile neighbors and a divided community, Fort, twelve years old and relatively small for his age, organized a group of boys who patrolled Blackstone Street between the corners of 64th and 66th where his family lived, to battle with white and black gangs in the area. In 1960 one year later Fort founded ...
Johnson, Ellsworth “Bumpy”
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 ...
was born in Denham Town in West Kingston, Jamaica, in 1949. His father worked a variety of handyman jobs in West Kingston, and his mother was a homemaker. Claudius attended All Saints Primary School, and among his friends outside of school was a young Bob Marley. In his teens, he engaged in criminal activities, and by the time he was 18, he had become the “don” of a West Kingston gang, the Phoenix, which dealt in marijuana and prostitution. Over the course of his criminal career, he would be charged at various times with murder, attempted murder, possession of illegal firearms, and perjury. Yet he was popular as a gang leader, known familiarly to locals as “Claudie” or “Jack” Massop.
Massop s home was in Tivoli Gardens an urban renewal project overseen by Edward Seaga the local member of Parliament for West Kingston and a member of the Jamaican ...
author, former gang member, was born Kody Scott in south central Los Angeles, the fifth of six children of Birdie M. Scott and the only one fathered by professional football player Dick Bass. Shakur was the godson of musician Ray Charles. He was a formative member of the Crip gang from the age of eleven. He joined his set (chapter) of the Crips, the Eight-Tray Gangsters, in June 1975.
The Eight-Tray Gangsters organized in 1974, but the Crip gang to which they belonged began in the wake of the 1965 Watts rebellion. The riots in Watts exposed police brutality and aggravated racial tensions in south central Los Angeles. Between 1968 and 1969Raymond Washington founded the Crips at Fremont High School in Watts and persuaded Stanley “Tookie” Williams and “Godfather” Jimel Barnes from Washington High School in Los Angeles to follow Barnes affirmed that ...
St. Clair, Stephanie
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 ...
Williams, Stanley “Tookie”
cofounder of Los Angeles's Crips gang, author, Nobel Prize nominee, and antigang activist, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and moved to South Central Los Angeles in 1959, after his parents (names unknown) divorced. Gang rivalry was prevalent in the area, and Williams was intrigued by the thrilling stories he heard from older neighborhood boys who had served time in prison. As a teenager, he spent time in a variety of juvenile detention centers in California and Utah for drug use, fighting, and suspected burglary.
Back in South Central, Williams earned a reputation as an expert street fighter and, along with high school friend Raymond Lee Washington, founded the Crips in 1971 Although the Crips a derivative of crib was originally founded to protect and defend the members and their families from gang aggression it rapidly increased in membership and violent activity to rival the area s other ...