Malarcher breakthrough and Gentleman as housing activist

If you’ve been checking into my recent posts about the ancestral background of Gentleman Dave Malarcher, you might have noticed comments at the end of a couple of the posts from great nephews and nieces of Dave and how they’ve traced his ancestry back to slavery in Virginia!

One of Gentleman’s great nephews and I have since been trading emails, and I’m scheduled to call him tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon. I’m super psyched. It means I’ll finally fill out a huge part of the Dave Malarcher picture with a big assist from his descendants. So a huge thank you already to them.

This also means that I should have several major posts about Gentleman beginning next week. For now, I’ll drop a neat little tidbit about Malarcher post-baseball career, from when he was a successful real estate agent in Chicago.

In his retirement, Dave became active in fighting for justice and equality for African Americans in the Windy City, especially when it came to housing. He was a member in and officer of the Dearborn Real Estate Commission, a local, grassroots effort to achieve those goals.

In summer 1942, for example, he was a member of a four-man committee from the association that, according to a press story, “met with the local administrator of the Rent Control Division … to discuss the question of jobs for colored in the division and its police regarding colored. …

“The administrator promised that colored will receive an equitable share of jobs as investigators, clerks and field men …”

That administrator, Earl Howard, according to the article, “expressed astonishment … at the small number of complaints with had originated on the Southside. He pointed out that the division has been established in Chicago primarily to prevent victimizing of colored.”

The Dearborn group, which was named after its base of operations on Chicago’s Dearborn Street, remained active throughout 1942 and beyond — in September of that year the board, according to a press report, launched a “drive to obtain greater colored representation as agents and employees, in the Federal Home Loan Bank Agency …”

A couple months later, the Dearborn panel urged Negro Schools and colleges to introduce courses in real estate principles, real estate management and real estate law.

In the late 1940s, the Dearborn group performed numerous group services, including collecting complaints from local residents about an embezzlement racket perpetrated by a gang of housing administrators, three of whom were arrested; protested the lack of police presence in black neighborhoods after an arson; launched a concerted effort to stop alleged racial prejudice on the part of a federal housing authority again African-American home seekers and builders; and created and began, according to an American Negro Press article, “its long-planned Negro Home Building program, which is expected to involve $8,000,000 in Chicago’s Negro communities within the next 12 months. … The program, designed to spur financing among Negroes, got underway … with a clinic on mortgage credit … ”

In addition, the “president of the Negro organization announced that members of his group have applied for a charter permitting them to establish another Negro Federal Savings and Loan Association in Chicago.” The leader, Bolin V. Bland, is quoted as saying, “If Negroes are to be a part of this country they must own some of it. Home ownership gives every individual a feeling that he has a concrete stake in this country.”


3 thoughts on “Malarcher breakthrough and Gentleman as housing activist

  1. Congratulations on your research on David Malarcher. I went to LSU Law school in the early ’70’s. Over the years I developed an interest in Black Ball. I have been a SABR member since 1978 and Malarcher was still alive and living in Chicago at the time. We struck up a brief correspondence (or more correctly I wrote him three letters and he was kind enough to respond to all of them). I had read Peterson and Holway’s sections about Little David and was struck by his obvious love for the game and his courtly writing style – not to mention his first hand comments about his playing days and a range of other topics.

    In any case, good luck with your future work. I think you’re really on to something and frankly, I’m jealous.

    Keep me posted.


    Gary Growe


    • Hi Gary,

      Thanks for reading and for commenting! I’m actually very jealous of you — you actually spoke with Mr. Malarcher, albeit via letters. He was just such an amazing man, and he lived a life many of us could only dream of living. I’ll definitely keep after things and continue posting about him.

      If you’re in SABR and a member of the Pelican-Schott chapter and if you could make the drive, the chapter is meeting April 25 at 10 AM, and at 2 that same day, there’s going to be a dedication ceremony for a new grave marker for NOLA blackball legend Wesley Barrow just down the road apiece. We’d love to see you there!


  2. Pingback: “I’m just so happy for Uncle Dave” | The Negro Leagues Up Close

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