Black Spades

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For the playing card of the name Black Spade, see Playing card.
Black Spades
A Black Spades vest
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 gang quickly spread to nearby housing projects and throughout the Bronx, with divisions in almost every precinct and they had over 50 divisions in New York State alone.

In the 1970s the various gangs had their own music. They walked ("bopped") around with a box radio, starting 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.

Another vest example

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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