Stephanie St Clair aka Queenie aka Madame St Clair was a French immigrant who moved to New York City in 1912. She was born in 1886, originally in Martinique, an island in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean.
St Clair was a tough and fearless lady of the streets and even by modern day standards considered a force to be reckoned with.
In 1922 she invested $10k of her own money into a numbers bank in Harlem. Her numbers game was so profitable that the Jewish and Italian gangs wanted in on her hustle. She refused and battled not only other gangs but the local authorities. When the cops came knocking she took on the NYPD, testifying about kickbacks that she had paid to them in order to let her operate her illegal rackets. Her testimony resulted in the firing of more than a dozen New York police officers.
FACTS ABOUT STEPHANIE ST CLAIR
- The first black Godmother
- Affiliated with the infamous New York extortion gang, the 40 Thieves
- Recruiter and mentor of Harlem’s first black Godfather, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson
- Ran a lucrative numbers operation which, unlike many of her male counterparts, never came under the control of the Italian mafia
- Died in 1969 in Harlem –still very rich from the profits of her illegal numbers rackets
Stay tuned for my exclusive story on Madame St Clair. I am absolutely fascinated by this woman and the power she held. She was a true gangster and the time period of history in which she operated makes her a street legend.
It’s difficult to imagine women like her existed 100 years ago when ladies most certainly did not dominate in a man’s world –especially within the underworld.
Stephanie St Clair was a well protected and well respected BOSS. She single-handedly changed the game and she did it all with numbers.
When I think of Madame St Clair’s bold, striking femininity the Marilyn Monroe quote comes to mind…..
“I don’t mind living in a man’s world, as long as I can be a woman in it”
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