Black Spades

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For the playing card of the name Black Spade, see Playing card.
Black Spades
Founded 1968 Bronx, NY
Years active 1968 to present
Territory Soundview, Bronx, New York

The Black Spades were a mostly African American street gang started in the Bronx during the late 1960s gaining popularity in the 1970s. The gang began to spread from the Bronx to Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, New Jersey and Connecticut by the late 1980s. During this period Hispanic and white members were more common.


The gang originated in 1968 in the Bronxdale Houses in the Soundview section of the Bronx as the Savage Seven. As the gang grew, they changed their name to the Black Spades.

The Black Spades officially formed in Junior High School 123 on Morrison Ave in Soundview. Originally a teenage street organization, The Spades followed the teachings of Malcolm X, the Nation Of Islam, and were influenced by the Black Panthers. Under the leadership of their original president who was a member of the Nation of Islam, the Spades organized to fight against the racism and bigotry in the Soundview, Clason Point, Parkchester, Castle Hill, and Throgs Neck neighborhoods of the Bronx. The Black Spades 1st Division policed and protected Bronxdale Houses from the rise in crime, drug dealers, and heroin addicts that began to take over the community.

The gang quickly spread to nearby housing projects and throughout the Bronx, with divisionstarting a subculture inviting music in the lives of gang members. The Black Spades were also participants in the Hoe Avenue peace meeting.

New York street gang activity peaked in 1973, and then began to decline. Reasons for this decline included violence and drug use as well as an move to the burgeoning hip hop culture in park jams, block parties and clubs.

Afrika Bambaataa was the warlord of the Black Spades before becoming a famous hip hop DJ. He went on to form the Universal Zulu Nation on November 12, 1973; [1] with several members following him.

Kool DJ Herc, an early hip hop music pioneer, credits gangs including the Black Spades with getting the hip hop scene started.

The organization had a strong following through the late 1990s. Around this time many young members of the organization transitioned their membership to the Bloods street gang of NYC.


  1. ^ Bell, Shawn. "Hip Hop History Month". Universal Zulu Nation. Retrieved 9 June 2015. 

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