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Tue, 09.12.1882

Edwin Smalls, Entertainment Businessman born.

Edwin Smalls

*Edwin Smalls was born on this date in 1882. He was a Black businessman.

Edwin Alexander Smalls was from Charleston, SC, and joined the Great Migration north and came to New York with the waves of people who flowed into the city from Europe and the South. He settled in Manhattan but moved uptown as Harlem was opened to Blacks.

His first job was as an elevator operator in an apartment house. But in 1919, he went into business for himself, opening on Fifth Avenue—uptown—a pool room. He decided to open Smalls’ Restaurant and then, in 1920, a nightclub. A friend of New York Mayor Jimmy Walker and pastor and politician Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Smalls also gave Malcolm X one of his first jobs in 1943. In 1925, he moved the club to its present location and changed the name to Smalls' Paradise

He owned and operated the club for 34 years. He was always tastefully dressed, drove a well-made automobile with his initials on the license plates, and, in those days when Blacks had a limited choice of vacation spots, he would regularly go to Hot Springs, Ark. Edwin Smalls died on October 14, 1974, at the Harkness Pavilion after an 18‐month illness. He was 92 years old and lived at 240 West 137th Street.

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