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Jimmy McKee Records

Filing title: 
McKee (Jimmy) Records

Jimmy McKee records

Summary Information

J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, UNC Charlotte
McKee, Jimmy (James Robert), 1912-1985
Jimmy McKee records
Date [inclusive]
1.0 Cubic feet
Papers of the founder of the Excelsior Club, the most influential social club for African Americans in Charlotte, NC, from its establishment in 1944 to its sale forty years later. Includes photographs, advertising material, programs, and booklets relating to “Genial Gene” Potts, a radio personality and disc jockey for WGIV.

Preferred Citation note

Jimmy McKee Records. J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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Biographical/Historical note

James “Jimmy” Robert McKee* was born in 1912 in Charlotte, NC, to John and Violet Miller McKee. He was the second of ten children, but was orphaned by the time he was fourteen. At that point, he left school to work and provide for his siblings. On January 13, 1939, McKee married Minnie Jackson. One of the jobs he had was as the head mail clerk with Horton Motor Lines. In addition, he also tended a bar at some of the finest night clubs and country clubs in the Charlotte area. This experience gave him the idea of starting a club for African-Americans in Charlotte, since blacks were barred from white establishments. In 1944, he bought a house on Beatties Ford Road, and converted it into a club with dining and banqueting rooms, as well as a bar. In addition to serving as a place for entertainment and relaxation, the Excelsior also served as a meeting place for officials in both the Democratic and Republican parties, and during the tumultuous Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, the Excelsior was a place for politicians of both races to meet as equals. His declining health forced McKee to sell the club to in November of 1984, though McKee remained active with the establishment, tending the bar, and serving as a business consultant for a few months after the sale. McKee’s last major activity at the Excelsior was the fortieth anniversary celebration, which took place on November 16, 1984. After starting the Excelsior in 1944, success came steadily for McKee, and he eventually became not only one of Charlotte’s leading businessmen, but also one of its more generous philanthropists, giving money to Johnson C. Smith University (he established the 100 Club as a vehicle for university fund-raising), the NAACP, the Colored NC Police Association, the Democratic party, and the YMCA, to name a few. In addition, he was a leader in advancing racial progress by pressuring golf courses to open their doors to African-Americans; and also encouraging the careers of African-Americans at WGIV, a local radio station. In 1957, the Charlotte Post newspaper recognized McKee as its “Man of the Year.” During his life, he was also a Shriner, a Mason and a member of the Elks Lodge. McKee died of cancer, on July 25, 1985 at the age of 72. A portrait of Mr. McKee is on display in the periodicals section on the second floor of the J. Murrey Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte. The First Baptist Church-West, 1801 Oaklawn Avenue, Charlotte, has a portrait of Mrs. McKee.

*The name “Jimmy,” also appears as “Jimmie” on many of his papers.

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Scope and Contents note

The James R. McKee Collection consists of five folders containing material concerning McKee’s life, and his career as a night club owner, philanthropist as well as his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. In 1944, Jimmy McKee established the first night club for African-Americans in the Charlotte area. His collection includes not only papers generated as a result of his life’s work, but also a large assortment of photographs. As a successful business owner, he acquired the funds to make a variety of generous contributions for the advancement of racial equality, as well as to both political parties. His philanthropic efforts included funding for the YMCA, Johnson C. Smith University, and fostering the career of radio personality Eugene S. Potts (a.k.a.) “Genial Gene,” to name a few. In addition to documentary and photographic materials in this collection, there are also a few three-dimensional items, including plaques, a trophy and party favors commemorating the Excelsior Club’s 40th anniversary in 1984.

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Arrangement note

Arranged in five series: 1. The Excelsior Club papers, 1944-1984; 2. The Excelsior Club papers, 1944-1984, Newspaper clippings; 3. Potts, Eugene S. "Genial Gene, " 1951-1958; 4. Certificates of Appreciation, 1971-1985; 5. Memorials, 1985.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, UNC Charlotte 2005

9201 University City Blvd.
Charlotte, NC, 28223

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use note

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Estate of Jimmy and Minnie McKee, c/o H. Parks Helms, 2003.

Processing Information note

Processed by Robert A. McInnes, 2005.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Excelsior Club (Charlotte, N.C.).
  • WGIV (Radio station : Charlotte, N.C.).

Personal Name(s)

  • McKee, Jimmy (James Robert), 1912-1985
  • Potts, Eugene S.


  • African Americans--North Carolina--Charlotte--Social life and customs
  • Race relations--North Carolina--Charlotte

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Collection Inventory


Box Folder

The Excelsior Club papers 1944-1984 

1 1

The Excelsior Club papers : Newspaper clippings 1944-1984 

1 2

Potts, Eugene S. “Genial Gene” 1951-1958 

1 3

Certificates of Appreciation 1971-1985 

1 4

Memorials 1985 


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Photographs and Negatives 

Box Folder item

Exterior view of the Excelsior Club building circa 1944 

P29 1 P336/1

Unidentified groups inside the Excelsior Club (undated) 

P29 1 P336/2-5

Interior view of the Excelsior Club (undated) 

P29 1 P336/6

Unidentified musical band in the Excelsior Club (undated) 

P29 1 P336/7

People seated at the bar in the Excelsior Club (undated) 


People in the Excelsior Club (undated) 


Unidentified musical bands in the Excelsior Club (undated) 

P29 1 P336/11-13

People seated at a table in the Excelsior Club (undated) 

P29 1 P336/14

Exterior view of the Excelsior Club building, after renovations (undated) 

P29 1 P336/15-17

Interior views of the Excelsior Club during a black-tie event (undated) 

P29 1 P336/18-25

Unidentified social gathering in a garage (undated) 

P29 1 P336/26-32

Living room, probably of the McKee residence (undated) 

P29 1 P336/33

Minnie Jackson McKee (undated) 

P29 1 P336/34

An award banquet, November 11, 1978, "Congratulations to Brother Jimmy, Charlotte Business League’s Citizen of the Year" 1978-11-11 

P29 1 P336/35

Jimmy McKee inside the Excelsior Club (undated) 

P29 1 P336/36-37

Jimmy McKee holding a certificate of appreciation (undated) 

P29 1 P336/38

Jimmy McKee inside the Excelsior Club (undated) 

P29 1 P336/39-40

Unidentified social gatherings inside the Excelsior Club (undated) 

P29 1 P336/41-46

“To my friend Jimmy McKee whose leadership in the Democratic Party meant much to my elections. Sincere thanks, Rufus” {Edmisten}, Attorney General and, later, Secretary of State of North Carolina (undated) 

P29 1 P336/47

McKee’s Charcoal Steak House Restaurant & lounge (undated) 

P29 1 P336/48

Second Ward (Charlotte) pageant and parade (undated) 

P29 1 P336/49-50

“Thanks for my party at the Excelsior. To Jimmy McKee, Mr. Excelsior Club, Always David Waymer, Jr.” (undated) 

P29 2 P336/51

Interior views of the Excelsior Club from behind the bar (undated) 

P29 2 P336/52-53

Interior views of the Excelsior Club, November 16, 1984, during the 40th anniversary party 1984-11-16 

P29 2 P336/54-79

“To my great friend, Jimmy McKee,” James B. Hunt (undated) 

P29 2 P336/80a-b

Jimmy McKee signing the papers to sell the Excelsior Club, late 1984. Back row, left to right: Mel Walt (attorney for buyers), Ken Koontz (buyer), Hatchett (buyer), Parks Helms (attorney for sellers); Seated: Minnie and Jimmy McKee—owners of the Excelsior Club 1984-11-16 

P29 2 P336/81

American Cancer Society Jail-a-thon 1985 

P29 2 P336/82-86

Pictures taken at Disney World (undated) 

P29 2 P336/87-90

Jimmy and Minnie McKee and friends 1985 

P29 2 P336/91-115

Jimmy McKee’s burial site and funeral 1985-07 

P29 2 P336/116-117

Portraits of Jimmy and Minnie McKee (undated) 

P29 2 P336/118-119

“To Aunt Minnie, Sept. 1979, Anitra, 2 ½, and Sabrina 11 yrs.” 1979-09 

P29 2 P336/120

An early view of the Brooklyn neighborhood, “For Brooklyn Oldtimers: Courtesy Northwestern Printing Company.” (undated) 

P29 2 P336/121
Box Folder

Jimmy McKee--oversize photo 

PL7 9

Negatives (3 strips)   3.0 Items

NST2 22

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Three dimensional objects   11.0 Items 11 items in a cardboard carton or box

Box Carton

Glass ashtray picturing the WGIV radio station (undated) 


Book of matches, “40th Anniversary Excelsior Club 1944-1984 


Phone-dex, by Abon 


Plastic cup in a leather holder 


Lipstick case w/mirror 


Miniature cigarette lighters (2), “25th Anniversary EXCELSIOR CLUB 1944-1969 


Miniature cigarette ashtray, made of brass 


Ashtrays (2) made of aluminum, in the shape of a leaf 


Miniature address book 

Box Folder

Plaque, with inscription: “To Jimmy McKee “Thanks” for the many years of dedicated, untiring support of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party. D. Kelly – Ch. Meck. County Democratic Party 10/30/75 

1 6

Plaque, with inscription: “To Minnie McKee, ‘What she heard there she let stay there.’ She did this for 40 years and it works. It’s called – LOVE, The key to success, from John & Joneal Williams, on the 40th anniversary of the Excelsior Club, November 16, 1984 

1 7

Trophy cup, with inscription: “Presented to James R. McKee, In sincere appreciation for your service to our community from the Sans Souci Club, Charlotte, NC 12-28-78.” 


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Blue prints illustrating the ground floor of the Excelsior Club 


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