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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

MCGHEE, NORMAN L. SR.

MCGHEE, NORMAN L. SR.

MCGHEE, NORMAN L. SR. (20 Nov. 1897-20 July 1979) was the first African-American, licensed stock dealer in the Midwest and founded the first black-owned brokerage firm in the nation. He was born in Austell, Ga. to college-trained parents, schoolteacher Maidee (Haywood) and AME minister Daniel McGhee. McGhee worked as a railway porter to earn his way to Howard University. He completed high school (1916), college (1920), and law school (1922) there. McGhee came to Cleveland in 1925 to practice law. His association with Herbert S. Chauncey, a local black entrepreneur, led to his involvement as a legal consultant and shareholder in EMPIRE SAVINGS & LOAN CO. and Peoples Realty Co. He also became editor of the Cleveland Post, a weekly newspaper for Chauncey's insurance societies. When the Post merged with the Call to form the CALL & POST, McGhee became the paper's first editor.

McGhee became increasingly active in real estate. He organized McGhee & Co. in 1952 to encourage blacks to gain a stronger foothold in the economy through stock investment. He established a mutual investment fund, Everyman's Fund, primarily for the black community. A Democrat, McGhee was appointed to the City Planning Commission 1942-46 and served as a ward leader in 1956. McGhee was involved in many civic organizations, and was a trustee of ST. JAMES AME CHURCH and Wilberforce University.

McGhee was married 3 times: first to Margery Vashon (d. 1933) in 1925; then to Dorothy Cook (d. 1966) in 1934; and last, to Rosalind Bulcher Lewis in 1967. McGhee had four children: Marjorie M. Baker, Alice Bell, Norman McGhee, Jr., and Ronald.