African American Studies
This interview gives insights into Judge McGee's personality and beliefs. He was a judge for fifteen years and heavily involved in community politics. Leroi Archible describes him as “firm and stern, but fair.” He did not like lawyers who “tried to be cute.” Family was very important to him, and he supported his nephew, Roger Wareham, who was accused of “ planning to overthrow the government … (but he) was talking about: justice and fairness.” Guliani was the prosecutor but he lost the case. Judge McGee believed he was innocent and was willing to stake his house on that. There was a lot of attention from the press at that time but Wareham was exonerated and works with the Human Rights Commission now.
Judge McGee got involved with the Morrisania Revitalization projects and was chairman for a while. Those projects established Bronx Neighborhood Centres. He and his friends debated and relaxed at a bar on Lennox Avenue between 138th street and 137th street called Stewart’s, they called it 'Heaven.' When that bar closed, they moved to an old jazz place called Jobo's on Prospect and 169th street. These bars were more like the old barbershops – you could “see the lighter side of him” there.
Archible fells it is important for Bronx youth today to know that you can make it, and that Judge McGee is an inspiration for them. “He had dropped out of high school to make some moves and he just come back and pick up the speeding, continuing to become a judge and then a lawyer for IBM. So, you can make it. I think, if you’re to express history in the Bronx and to the young folks, then let them know that there’s folks that lived in this neighborhood and survived, went to public school and had a success here.” He could not tolerate injustice and worked all of his life to see that people had a good life - “he knew that people want to hurt you all the time. You just had to rise above it, and you don’t let it get to you, and you go on and do what you got to do, you know.”
Mildred McGee, Interview with the Bronx African American History Project, BAAHP Digital Archive at Fordham University
Click below to download supplemental content.McGee, Mildred Interview 2 Part 1.mp3 (52825 kB)
McGee, Mildred Interview 2 Part 2.mp3 (43563 kB)