SLAUGHTER, FLEET, (24 July 1919-23 Aug. 1975), an AFRICAN AMERICAN business and civic leader, was born in New Orleans, La. After graduating from McDonogh No. 35 High School in 1938, then the only four-year public high school for blacks in New Orleans, Slaughter took correspondence courses through LaSalle Extension University in Chicago and later at FENN COLLEGE. He moved to Cleveland after serving in the Army Corps of Engineers in 1941-44. Slaughter worked as a locker room attendant and bartender at the SHAKER HEIGHTS COUNTRY CLUB. In 1950 he bought the Harlem Social Club, a small tavern, at 9801 Cedar Ave. In 1952, Slaughter married Beulah Norton Penn, also a native of Louisiana (Claiborne Parish), who had owned and operated the Manhattan Restaurant, a 24-hour homestyle restaurant, at 9903 Cedar Ave., for ten years. The Slaughters then operated the Manhattan Restaurant together, adding a lounge in 1953. That year they also acquired the Reno Hotel on E. 40th St. between Carnegie and Cedar Aves.

The Slaughters became best known for the Lancer Steak House, which they opened at 7707 Carnegie Ave. in 1960 as a successor to the Manhattan. The Lancer offered daily luncheons, white-tablecloth service, a cocktail lounge, and Sunday dinner buffets. The restaurant’s upstairs meeting room became a favored gathering place for politicians, businessmen, and celebrities, and as a venue that worked to bridge racial divisions. The Lancer was an important staging ground for the 1967 mayoral campaign of CARL B. STOKES and was where black leaders resolved to back LOUIS STOKES in the primary for the 21st District congressional seat in 1968. During some MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., VISITS TO CLEVELAND, Beulah Slaughter prepared meals to deliver to an apartment in HOUGH where he stayed for his protection. The Slaughters sold the old Reno Hotel and opened the Lancer Motor Inn behind their restaurant in 1972. In its first few years, the hotel was a favored spot for visiting African American celebrities. Into the early 1970s Slaughter was politically active in Ward 18, narrowing losing in 1973 to incumbent Councilman James H. Boyd. After Slaughter died in 1975, Beulah Slaughter continued to operate the Lancer until 1978, but by this time the restaurant’s importance as a power center for black politicians was diminishing as much of its clientele had moved into the suburbs. Subsequent owners were John H. Carson, Jr. (1978-86) and George Dixon III (1986-2015). By the 1980s, the Lancer motel became the site of some serious crimes and its clientele waned. Soon after a fire destroyed the restaurant in 2009, Dixon reopened in in an old storefront across Carnegie. He closed the Lancer in 2015 and, with Ted Ginn Sr., bought the former Mardi Gras Lounge and Grill on E. 21st St. and reopened there in 2016 as G-Lancer on 21.

Slaughter was a member of numerous fraternal, civil rights, political, and civic organizations, notably the William T. Boyd Lodge No. 79 of the MASONS, the NAACP Cleveland Branch, the 21st Congressional District Caucus, and the Plus Club, an organization launched by WILLIAM OTIS WALKER to mentor and support young African Americans. An avid golfer, Slaughter founded the Sixth City Golf Club, one of the nation’s first black golfing associations, in 1946 and served as treasurer of the U.S. Golfing Association. Fleet and Beulah Slaughter (d. 1999) had four children: Claude, Ronald, Patrick, and Warren. Slaughter died in Cleveland.

Mark Souther

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