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|New York|  Bumpy Johnson

Birth: October 31, 1905

Death: July 7, 1968












Ellsworth Raymond 'Bumpy' Johnson was an African-American gangster from Harlem in the early 20th century.
Johnson, a folk hero among Harlem locals for over four decades, was an member of Stephanie St. Clair's organisation, which was heavily involved in the numbers racket. He was later hired as an enforcer by New York crime families against local criminals who were attempting to gain control of Mafia operations in Harlem and other predominantly black neighborhoods. Together with Madam Queen (St. Clair) he fought against the forces of Dutch Schultz, who was moving in on their turf during the early 1930's. Schultz was eventually murdered in 1935 by hitmen of Lepke Buchalter, in order of Mafia kingpin Charles Luciano. He recieved the nickname "Bumpy" by his parents due to a large bump he had as a child. Johnson was arrested more than forty times and would eventually serve three prison terms for narcotics-related charges before dying of a heart attack in 1968 while dining at Wells restarant. Frank Lucas (b.1930), who became a notorious and rich drug dealer during the 70's, claimed to be with Johnson at the time of his death, but Johnsons widow disputes this, saying Lucas exaggerated his relation with her husband. At the time of his death, his case was pending for another narcotics violation that could have earned him a possible fourth prison term. While in prison Johnson studied philosophy and history. Johnson also wrote poetry, some of which was later published during the Harlem Renaissance.

Once in December 1965, Johnson staged a sit-down strike in a police station, refusing to leave, as a protest against their continued surveillance. He was charged with "refusal to leave a police station" but was acquitted by a sympathetic judge. He has been portrayed in film by actor Lawrence Fishburne in The Cotton Club and Hoodlum as well as by actor John Amos in the television special Alcatraz: The Whole Shocking Story.


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