leola-king

Leola King, 1919- 2015

Leola King, 1919- 2015

Leola King, 1919- 2015
Well known as the “The Queen of the Fillmore,” Leola King was one of the first female owners of a Bay Area nightclub, owning four in the Fillmore. During the redlining of the Fillmore District under urban renewal, the Redevelopment Agency declared her barbeque business “blighted” and would take it by eminent domain. King refused to sell her barbecue to Redevelopment and arrived one morning in 1949 to find it demolished. In 1953, she opened her most famous jazz club, the Blue Mirror, on Fillmore Street, where performers included Louis Armstrong, BB King, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Dinah Washington. She became friends with Josephine Baker, Nat King Cole, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Elizabeth Taylor. Later, her alcohol license was taken away, and her business padlocked; She next opened the Bird Cage on Fillmore Street in 1964 that also quickly became popular. Active for ten years, the Redevelopment Agency bought the building her business was in, evicting all its tenants. The SF Sheriff forcibly removed King when she refused. She was one of several who received a voucher for a return to the neighborhood once it was “redeveloped,” which took decades to complete. King spent the next 25 years fighting the Redevelopment Agency, eventually going bankrupt doing so.

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  1. Leola King, 1919- 2015
    Well known as the “The Queen of the Fillmore,” Leola King was one of the first female owners of a Bay Area nightclub, owning four in the Fillmore. During the redlining of the Fillmore District under urban renewal, the Redevelopment Agency declared her barbeque business “blighted” and would take it by eminent domain. King refused to sell her barbecue to Redevelopment and arrived one morning in 1949 to find it demolished. In 1953, she opened her most famous jazz club, the Blue Mirror, on Fillmore Street, where performers included Louis Armstrong, BB King, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Dinah Washington. She became friends with Josephine Baker, Nat King Cole, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Elizabeth Taylor. Later, her alcohol license was taken away, and her business padlocked; She next opened the Bird Cage on Fillmore Street in 1964 that also quickly became popular. Active for ten years, the Redevelopment Agency bought the building her business was in, evicting all its tenants. The SF Sheriff forcibly removed King when she refused. She was one of several who received a voucher for a return to the neighborhood once it was “redeveloped,” which took decades to complete. King spent the next 25 years fighting the Redevelopment Agency, eventually going bankrupt doing so.

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