As HBO continues to become more inclusive in its storytelling, there’s one movie in the works that we’re particularly looking forward to. Tim Story and Zero Gravity Management are currently developing the life story of Stephanie St. Clair via HBO Films.
This immigrant boss woman’s story is one that has barely been touched by media makers throughout history and is sure to be a hit once it premieres.
But who is Stephanie St. Clair? Here’s the quick and dirty on what you should know about Harlem’s Queen of Numbers.
1.She was a woman of many names. Born Stephanie St. Clair in the French Caribbean, she moved to New York City in the 1910s. Throughout the other neighborhoods in Manhattan, she was known as Queenie for being tall and fashionably dressed. In Harlem, she was addressed as Madame St. Clair.
2. She earned her fortune by making her own numbers racket. This practice was commonly referred to as “policy banking,” and it was a mix of investing, gambling, and playing the lottery. Very few banks accepted Black customers at the time, so this was viewed as a way for Black people to invest their earnings. Meanwhile, St. Clair cleared a quarter million dollars a year from the racket.
3. She was an activist. She took out several newspaper ads educating her community about their rights, advocating for voting rights, and calling out police brutality. She also started a legal fund to help new French-speaking immigrants.
4. She lived in the same building as some other notables. In her 409 Edgecombe Avenue abode, she held the most exclusive apartment building in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem. Other people that lived in her building included C.J. Walker, Walter White, W.E.B. DuBois, and Thurgood Marshall.
5. She stood up to any man who tried to cross her—or her people.
White mobsters, namely Jewish gangster Dutch Schultz, tried to take advantage of the citizens of Harlem, and go after St. Clair. She received threatening phone calls, her men were kidnapped and murdered, and she was even arrested at one point. But she didn’t take it lying down, she got revenge. She had her bodyguards “take care” of anyone who came to attack her, she tipped the police off to Schultz’s operations, and destroyed any businesses that participated in Schultz’s betting operations. When Schultz was shot in the stomach, she rushed a telegram to his hospital’s deathbed that read: “So Ye Sow—So Shall Ye Reap. —Madam Queen of Policy.” Savage.