Barron Deware Wilkins was a prominent black man throughout Harlem, New York. Anything that took place in Harlem most likely had been approved by Wilkins, who was also called the ‘political boss.’
Wilkins was born in 1867, not much is known about his early childhood. He arrived in Harlem in 1903 and had success with a cabaret that his brother owned. Wilkins gained quite the reputation throughout Harlem as a strong businessman, everything that happened in the city, went through Wilkins first. He had political clout and kept up good relations with the police so that his club would not be closed for serving alcohol during Prohibition, he was one of the most powerful men in Harlem.
On Saturday 24th May 1924, a man named William Miller, alias “Yellow Charleston” was playing craps in a basement in Harlem. Yellow Charleston lost his money and asked a friend, (who was also in the basement) for a loan of 50 cents. His friend was only willing to give him a quarter and a row started, which led to Yellow Charleston shooting and killing his friend.
Yellow Charleston ran up to Barron Wilkins, who was standing across the street from his club (Exclusive Club, Inc.). Yellow Charleston demanded Wilkins give him $100 to make a getaway. When Wilkins refused to give him the money, Yellow Charleston shot him two times and fled the scene. Wilkins died en-route to the hospital.
After hearing the news of what happened to Wilkins, a group of his friends formed a vigilante group in search of “Yellow Charleston.” Fearing that he would be caught and murdered by the hands of the group, Yellow Charleston turned himself over to the police.
Yellow Charleston” was convicted on first-degree murder in both deaths, he went to the electric chair at Sing Sing prison in 1925. 70,000 people lined up the streets of Harlem for Barron Wilkins funeral procession.
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