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The World of Stephanie St. Clair - Harlem Policy Banker

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Abstract:

Stephanie St. Clair was born in 1897 on the island of Guadeloupe. In 1923 with $10,000 in seed money she created and ran highly-lucrative policy bank in Harlem. By 1926, the operation earned a quarter of a million dollars. To this day, she remains the only black female gangster to run an operation of that size. At the same time, St. Clair contributed generously to the community and advocated for racial uplift. During the period (1911-1914) when St. Clair arrived in New York, 4,943 other black women arrived in the United States, the majority bound for domestic servitude or other form of menial labor. Research suggests that she, too, was bound for domestic servitude. My inquiry then is, why did she not submit and live the life expected of her? What were some of the “knowable” factors that influenced St. Clair’s decision to (1) become an entrepreneur who would create and run her own illegal business operation; and, paradoxically (2) become an activist within her community. Also implicit, and therefore a component of my inquiry, was St. Clair’s decision to describe herself as a “lady” when the definition would not have applied to her—ladies did not run illegal businesses and they were not black. I argue that the answer lies at the intersection of what St. Clair believed herself to be and the influences of external factors in her life.
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Association:
Name: 95th Annual Convention
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http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435714_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Stewart, Shirley. "The World of Stephanie St. Clair - Harlem Policy Banker" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, Sep 29, 2010 <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435714_index.html>

APA Citation:

Stewart, S. P. , 2010-09-29 "The World of Stephanie St. Clair - Harlem Policy Banker" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435714_index.html

Publication Type: Individual Paper
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Stephanie St. Clair was born in 1897 on the island of Guadeloupe. In 1923 with $10,000 in seed money she created and ran highly-lucrative policy bank in Harlem. By 1926, the operation earned a quarter of a million dollars. To this day, she remains the only black female gangster to run an operation of that size. At the same time, St. Clair contributed generously to the community and advocated for racial uplift. During the period (1911-1914) when St. Clair arrived in New York, 4,943 other black women arrived in the United States, the majority bound for domestic servitude or other form of menial labor. Research suggests that she, too, was bound for domestic servitude. My inquiry then is, why did she not submit and live the life expected of her? What were some of the “knowable” factors that influenced St. Clair’s decision to (1) become an entrepreneur who would create and run her own illegal business operation; and, paradoxically (2) become an activist within her community. Also implicit, and therefore a component of my inquiry, was St. Clair’s decision to describe herself as a “lady” when the definition would not have applied to her—ladies did not run illegal businesses and they were not black. I argue that the answer lies at the intersection of what St. Clair believed herself to be and the influences of external factors in her life.


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