Leroy Smith: Prominent Activist and First African American Licensed to Sell Fire Arms in Colorado

0 Posted by - April 19, 2022 - Black Culture, Black First, Black History, BLACK MEN, LATEST POSTS

Leroy Smith was a well-known figure in the Five Points neighborhood of Denver.

Smith was born in Poteau, Oklahoma on July 11, 1911. As a young boy, he worked in the cotton fields and then as a railroad Pullman Porter. He eventually settled in the Denver area where he opened The Rhythm Records Shop in 1939. He also had an interest in firearms and was the first African American in the area licensed to sell them in Colorado. After obtaining his license, he changed the name of his store to “The Rhythm Records and Sporting Goods Shop.”

Smith married Lula A. Green and the couple raised five children together. He became friends with the entertainment promoter Bill Jones and became his apprentice. After going out on his own, he was a promoter of various entertainers including Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Fats Domino, and many others.

Smith was also active in the Five Points scene and was considered a neighborhood activist. He started the Colorado Negro Voters Club in the 1960s. He was the first black disc jockey on Denver’s KIMN and KFEL radio in 1948.

Smith was not only the owner of the Rhythm Records shop, but he also became the owner of the Rainbow Ballroom. For 20 years he was the Organizer of the Wild Game Feast of Colorado. He was a member of the Five Points Businessmen Association and a 33rd degree Mason of the Shriners of Syrian Temple No.49. In addition, he was the first black member of the Chamber of Commerce. Leroy Smith died in 1989, at the age of 77.




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