Bumpy Johnson’s Widow Releases Her Tell-All Book About Harlem’s Original American Gangster



Harlem, NY – Finally! Harlem Godfather: The Rap on my Husband, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson (Oshun Publishing Paperback) is now available. The first complete biography of the most well-known African-American gangster of all time, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson, this gripping life history is written by the person who knew Bumpy Johnson best, his 93-year-old widow, Mayme Johnson.

Collaborating with Essence Magazine and Blackboard bestselling author, Karen E. Quinones Miller, Mrs. Johnson sets the record straight about the legendary Harlem gangster who was known as the only African-American gangster brave enough to stand up to the white mob, and who is depicted in the blockbuster movies Cotton Club, Hoodlum, and American Gangster.

“Most of the information that people think they know about Bumpy is wrong,” says Mrs. Johnson. “That’s because he never used to give interviews, so the newspapers and magazine back in the thirties and forties just made up stuff. And later on it got repeated so often people just took it for the truth. I never got upset because I knew that people just didn’t know better.”

Mrs. Johnson, however, says her feelings changed when she heard that Harlem dope dealer Frank Lucas — depicted by Denzel Washington in the movie American Gangster — said he was Bumpy’s personal confidant, and that Bumpy was his mentor.

“There’s a difference between being wrong and lying, and what Frank Lucas did was lie. I understand it was probably to give himself some street credibility because he snitched and Bumpy never did, but Frank still shouldn’t have lied,” states Mrs. Johnson vehemently. “Frank even went and told those Hollywood people that Bumpy died in his arms. Frank wasn’t nowhere around when Bumpy died.”

Harlem Godfather: The Rap on my Husband, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson, details Bumpy Johnson’s life from his early days in Charleston S.C.; his move to Harlem as a teenager; his famous gang war with Jewish mobster, Dutch Schultz, in the thirties; his ascension to the top of the ladder of organized crime in Harlem; and finally his death from a heart attack in 1968 while eating fried chicken at Wells Restaurant in Harlem. Cleverly interwoven in the book are anecdotes of Bumpy’s relationships with various Harlem luminaries, including Billie Holiday, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Sugar Ray Robinson, Lena Horne, and others as well as the history of Harlem that few know.

The Official Book Launch Party for Harlem Godfather: The Rap on my Husband, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson is being held at Zip Code Restaurant & Lounge at 2207 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd, in Harlem, on Saturday March 15th at 2 p.m. Guests are encouraged to come dressed as gangsters and gangster molls from the thirties and forties (there will be a best dressed contest judged by Mrs. Mayme Johnson). Admission is $15.00 in advance, and $20 at the door. All ticketed attendees will receive a free copy of Harlem Godfather: The Rap on my Husband, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson.

Harlem Godfather: The Rap on my Husband, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson is available in bookstores nationwide and online at Amazon.com and other Internet book sites. Preview the book and visit Mrs. Mayme Johnson online at www.harlemgodfather.com .

Mayme Hatcher Johnson was born near Durham, North Carolina in 1914. She moved to Harlem in 1938, and worked first as a cleaning woman, then as a hostess for Hagar’s Barbecue, a restaurant owned by singer Ethel Waters. She met the already famous Bumpy in 1948 and married him just six months later. Mrs. Johnson was wed to Bumpy a total of 20 years, and while Bumpy was incarcerated for ten of those years, the two enjoyed a very close relationship, and he shared with her many secrets of his past that he refused to discuss with other people. After Bumpy’s death in 1968, Mrs. Johnson remained in Harlem for 35 years before moving to Philadelphia. Mrs. Johnson’s favorite pastimes include reading newspapers and watching news programs in order to keep up with current events. She also admits to being a big fan of the show, Judge Judy.

Mrs. Johnson still stays in close contact with her friends in Harlem, as well as her older brother (95), and her younger sister (90). She attributes her and her sibling’s longevity to good genes. To find more about Mrs. Johnson visit www.harlemgodfather.com

Karen E. Quinones Miller is the author of the Essence best selling novels Satin Doll, I’m Telling, Using What You Got, Ida B., (nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction), Satin Nights, and Passin’. Formerly a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Miller — who is included in the book Literary Divas: The Top 100+ Most Admired African-American Women in Literature — is often referred to as the “Aretha Franklin of the Publishing World,” and mentors many new and upcoming authors. Born and raised in Harlem, Miller met legendary gangster Bumpy Johnson as a child, and has been close friends with Mrs. Johnson for more two decades. To find more about Miller visit: www.karenequinonesmiller.com .

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13 years ago

I LOOK BACK NTO THEY TIME an ask myself when others come together rob sell kill and they get the title of being ongernize but more then five guys can b justhaning out they R the sum of the EARTH an ganbagers , how can people not see .