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In just a few months, the Royal Esquire Club in Columbia City, Seattle, will celebrate their 75th Anniversary as one of Seattle’s oldest and most established private clubs.

The Royal Esquire Men’s Club in Seattle was founded in 1947, as a place for professional African American men to come together to enjoy a fine cigar, a tasty beverage, and good old fashioned conversation.

The club, located at 5016 Rainier Avenue South, in Columbia City, was founded by Doyle Barner, Frederick Bowmar, William Childress, Freddie Ray, and Joe West. Over the past 75-years, the club has served as a meeting
place for many of Seattle’s social, political, and community leaders; including musicians, actors, athletes, businessmen, lawyers, city leaders, judges, and even Black Panthers. The club has a woman’s auxiliary, and
longstanding partnerships with seven women’s clubs; the Rhinestones, Stella Puella, Qualilmates, Just a Mere, La Femmes Charmonte, Mary Mahoney Nurses, and Vogue clubs. The original club location was on 4th Avenue & Yesler Way. Later moving to 12th Avenue & Jackson Street, and then to S Washington Street in 1952. For 43 years members and friends gathered at this two-story frame building to attend dinners, dances, and parties in a congenial, relaxed, and happy atmosphere. Members had their own keys and had the privilege of bringing guests. In 1985, after losing their property to the city’s eminent domain program, the Royal Esquire Club moved to their current Columbia City location.

“Kids around the city call him Bruce Hero, that’s a sign that he’s doing something right.” – Dale B.

Leadership responsibilities are shared by Club President, Roberto Jourdan, and Club Chair, Bruce Harrell; who work alongside a stellar executive board to ensure that the club is living up to the ideals and expectations set by their predecessors. Roberto Jourdan, former Seattle Fire Chief and current President of the Seattle Black Firefighters Association, understands the meaning of sacrificial leadership; and what it means to lead by example.

Roberto Jourdan, Club President

While celebrating the many accomplishments of the club’s past 75 years, Jourdan and Harrell are also looking forward to how they can make a positive mark on the community, and use the club’s esteemed reputation to lift underserved neighbors, small businesses, and community groups to a new level of sustainability, safety, and success.

Current leadership is President Roberto Jourdan, and Vice President Larry Jones. Chairman Bruce Harrell, and Vice-Chairman Arthur Shaw. Executive Board members Douglas Martin and Kermit Gipson. Directors Jerry Willis, Douglas Martin, Charles Gill, and Darrell Powell. Also, Exec. Secretary Clyde Merriwether, Financial Secretary Marlon Turner, and Treasurer Vince Livingston.

Kids Call Him BRUCE HERO

Bruce Harrell, Club Chairman

When kids throughout the city call you Bruce Hero, it’s a sign that you’re doing something right. I’m speaking,
of course, about the viral video of kids on their bikes educating adults about the man whose face appears on a mailbox flyer. “That’s Bruce Hero,” says a young man on his bicycle. “He saves people.”

Outside of the Royal Esquire Club, the city knows Bruce from his tireless advocacy for Seattle arts & culture.
Bruce actively supported artist-friendly programs including the Seattle Storefronts program, Arts at King Street Station, waiving admission tax on live music venues, creation of a Downtown Historic Theatre District, Save the Showbox, the African American museum, and financial incentives for performing arts theaters to rehabilitate and maintain their structures, as well as supporting youth incarceration diversion through art internships, classes and workshops.

“ I saw that Even in a room Full of Leaders,
Everyone was Looking to Bruce Harrell… ”


Those familiar with the Unified Outreach apprenticeship program (publishers of Vibrant Magazine!), know that we believe work-readiness-in the-arts classes are a proven way to get youth on track for success; especially youth in underserved communities. As such, we were excited to hear that Bruce not only has an interest in the same type of programs, but that he already has plans for development, called the Empowerment and Opportunity Program.

Bruce’s vision includes conversations with music
icon Quincy Jones to launch a Seattle-based arts-in-business model in 2022, focused on sustainability for arts-as-business establishments, as well as a new music and production studio and apprenticeship program under the
tutelage of the legendary producer himself.

The Remarkable Quincy Jones: 5 Icons Whose Lives Where Changed by Jones
Iconic producer, Quincy Jones back in Seattle?

Bruce’s ties to Quincy Jones run deep, as Bruce’s father attended Garfield High School with, and then went-on to play in a jazz band alongside Jones in the 60s. This lifelong friendship included Jones introducing Bruce’s parents to each other, back when they were HS freshmen. It’s relationships like this that set Bruce apart from others. He has a proven track-record of developing and sustaining working relationships with industry titans around the city and throughout the region. He’s capable of bringing CEO’s together with front-line heroes to get things done. As I personally observed at a 2016 meeting in West Seattle, where city managers lined the walls; even in a room full of leaders, all eyes were on Bruce Harrell. We can be confident, that with Jourdan and Harrell at the helm, the Royal Esquire Club is in good hands.

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