Harold “Slim” Jenkins (July 22, 1890 – May 24, 1967) was an Black nightclub owner whose Slim Jenkins Cafe was popular in West Oakland from the 1930s to the 1960s.
Born in Monroe, Louisiana, Jenkins moved to Oakland after serving in WWI. He found work as a waiter, and saved money to open his own club. 2
Jenkins opened his famed Slim Jenkins Club at 1748 - 7th Street in West Oakland on December 5, 1933, the day Prohibition was repealed with the passage of the 21st Amendment. For many years, it was the premiere nightclub in Oakland with black musical icons such as Nat King Cole, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, the Ink Spots, Earl Hines, Louis Jordan, and Dinah Washington performing for the racially mixed middle class audience. President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Slims, and William Knowland, publisher of the Oakland Tribune, was a frequent customer at the supper club.
Jenkins was a successful businessman, owning and operating several West Oakland restaurants, liquor stores, and night clubs which earned him the affectionate title of the "Mayor" of West Oakland.
Jenkins was a charter member of the Port of Oakland Community Club, active in Republican politics, and a member of the Men of Tomorrow, the Oakland Chapter of the NAACP, the Boys Club of Oakland, and served as Director and Vice President of the Transbay Federal Savings and Loan Company. He was also active in a number of social and civic organizations.
After the club in West Oakland was razed in 1962, Jenkins opened Slim Jenkins Cafe at 310 Broadway, which he ran until his death in 1967. 2
Although Slim's obituary in the Tribune says he never married, 2 according to the the 1940 census and Slim's WWII draft card, Jenkins was married to Elsie Jenkins who was born in Texas about 1904. By May 1954, Slim and Elsie had divorced; Elsie then opened her own club, Elsie's, at 5319 Grove St,. (now MLK). 4,5
Pages tagged “Slim Jenkins”
Links and References
- Photos CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 by Oakland Local
- Rites Set For Slim Jenkins Oakland Tribune May 24, 1967 (p2)
- Harold Jenkins Photograph Collection at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland
- Going Places by Don Steele Oakland Tribune May 19, 1954
- ad Oakland Tribune August 18, 1954
- MS11_B1_F1_017 African American Museum and Library at Oakland
- MS11_B1_F1_030 African American Museum and Library at Oakland
- Black History in Oakland OaklandLocal.com (via archive.org)
- Living for the City: Migration, Education, and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California
- Blues on Seventh Street The Monthly
- Slim Jenkins, West Oakland Entrepreneur Oakland Library blog
- Slim Jenkins, Oakland's Pioneer Black Entertainment Entrepreneur Geoffrey's Inner Circle