Were Bumpy Johnson and Malcolm X really friends? Everything to know

The legacies of Malcolm X and Bumpy Johnson are distinct. The former is a notorious mobster known as the “Godfather of Harlem” who runs the criminal underworld in New York City. Known for championing Black nationalism and serving as a leader in the civil rights struggle, the latter. The two individuals incorporated ideas from several philosophical traditions. And for that reason, it seems weird to even consider that they might be friends. But the most unbelievable situations do occasionally occur, raising the question, “Were Bumpy Johnson and Malcolm X friends?”

You undoubtedly have a tonne of inquiries concerning the alleged romance between Malcolm X and Bumpy. Was it real? If that’s the case, how on earth was it feasible given that they draw from many ideologies? You need a historical education to comprehend their relationship.

Were Bumpy Johnson and Malcolm X really friends? Everything to know
Who was Bumpy Johnson?

The Godfather of Harlem, also known as Bumpy Johnson (Ellsworth Raymond Johnson), was a prominent American crime figure in the New York area of Harlem.

Johnson was initially associated with Stephanie St. Clair, who he later succeeded as St. Clair’s top aide in the 1930s. Bumpy was detained more than 40 times and had two drug-related prison sentences served.

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Johnson was detained in 1952, at the height of his power as a crime lord in New York City. Johnson was given a 15-year sentence to serve at the Californian prison Alcatraz Federal, despite his insistence that he had been set up. Bumpy Johnson’s legend continued to spread despite his imprisonment, and there were rumours that he had assisted in the 1962 jail break.

Bumpy came back to Harlem in 1962 and continued where he had left off. He carried on until 1968, when he passed away from heart failure at the age of 62.

Who was Malcolm X?

If you are unaware of or haven’t heard of Malcolm X, you probably live under a rock. Leader of the civil rights struggle and advocate for Black nationalism, Malcolm X.

He consistently urged his fellow African Americans to use all available methods to defend themselves from white aggression. Malcolm’s position was in opposition to the nonviolent teachings of Martin Luther King Jr.

Malcolm X was an excellent speaker who exuded amazing charisma, which propelled him to centre stage and garnered global attention. In 1965, he was assassinated. The Black Power movement was sparked by Malcolm’s book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which made his beliefs well-known.

Were Bumpy Johnson and Malcolm X friends?

When Bumpy Johnson returns from Alcatraz prison in the television series The Godfather of Harlem, he is met by an old acquaintance named Detroit Red, also known as Malcolm X. People questioned whether the two were buddies in response to the scene.

Actually, Bumpy and Malcolm X were close buddies. Malcolm had protection from Johnson while his life was under danger. Although Malcolm X’s biography doesn’t go into great length about the depth of their connection, it was known that they worked together to fight for equality in the USA.

In the 1940s, Bumpy Johnson and Malcolm collaborated while the civil rights activist was a street hustler by the name of Detroit Red. Bumpy Johnson was Stephanie St. Claire’s (the Harlem mob boss) enforcer at the time.

How did the two manage to maintain a close relationship while having very different lives? It’s interesting to note that Bumpy Johnson, like Malcolm X, was politically aware and familiar with the fight for equality. Consequently, there was a shared interest in the romance between Malcolm X and Bumpy Johnson.

Did Malcolm X marry Bumpy Johnson’s daughter?

The relationship between Malcolm X and Bumpy Johnson’s daughter is another contentious issue. The rumours are unfounded because there is no proof that Malcolm X cheated on his wife Betty in real life.

In the television show Godfather of Harlem, Bumpy’s daughter Elise falls in love with Malcolm, and the two almost kiss. The series reveals, however, that Malcolm X’s adversaries propagated misleading information about his membership in the Nation of Islam.

Is Bumpy Johnson still alive?

On July 7, 1968, Bumpy Johnson, age 62, passed away from congestive heart failure. Just before 2:00 am, he was eating at the Wells Restaurant in Harlem. He had just received some of his favourite dishes, including chicken and hominy grits, from the waitress.

Who was Bumpy Johnson’s wife?

Mayme Hatcher was the spouse of Bumpy Johnson. Only six months had passed since their initial meeting when they got married in October 1948. At 94, Mayme Hatcher passed away in May 2009.

Who was Bumpy Johnson’s best friend?

The best friend of Bumpy Johnson has no confirmed accounts. He did, however, have a variety of pals and business partners, Malcolm X among them. In Mrs. Johnson’s book, Harlem Godfather: The Rap on My Husband, Ellsworth “Bumpy,” she claims that Frank Lucas was nothing more than a flunky, despite the fact that he boasted of being Bumpy’s right-hand man.


There is little question that Bumpy and Malcolm X were close friends, however the biography of Malcolm X doesn’t go into great depth about their relationship. When Bumpy was a street hustler back in the day, they interacted.

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