Lost Black History
By Don Valentine
Madam Queen was a notorious violent Numbers banker. She was arguably the most successful Numbers bankers in Harlem. Her lavish flamboyant lifestyle and gangster path captured the imaginations of Harlam residents. Gotham Center org, noted that she came to the city in 1910 from the French island Guadeloupe. Madam St. Clair won a wrongful eviction lawsuit against and received $1,000 in 1923. Adjusted for inflation that would be about $14,808. She used that fortune to almost take over the Numbers rackets in Harlem. The Queen employed up to 50 staffers “runners” for her business and would own several apartment buildings.
Historian LaShawn Harris noted Madam Queen was bold, audacious and flamboyant: “She was a risk taker, willing to challenge normative ideas about gender and race.”
Madam Queen lived in an apartment in the infamous “Sugar Hill” area, home to some of Harlem’s most prestigious residents, including WEB Du Bois, future SCOTUS Justice Thurgood Marshall and renowned painter Aaron Douglas. She was polished but not afraid to go to war against the Mafia. When the Great Depression set in, Mob “Capo” Dutch Schultz set his sights on Harlem’s Numbers game. He gave Black policy operators two options: relinquish their numbers business to him or pay him a percentage. The Queen, as archived by the Smithsonian magazine, vehemently said “I’m not afraid of Dutch Schultz or any other living man. He’ll never touch me! I will kill Schultz if he sets foot in Harlem.” She did not have to. The Mafia ordered a “hit” on Schultz and eliminated the issue. Schultz’s brazenness had also become a thorn in the side of the Mafia bosses. Madam St. Clair died quietly, still very wealthy in 1969 at age 72.
We Must Know Our History or Learn His-Story!
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