The Loeb name has garnered some unwelcome attention recently, with the release of a racist, elitist rant allegedly made by Lauren Loeb, a granddaughter of the white segregationist Mayor Henry Loeb III. (Back story below.)
In one breath, the granddaughter of Memphis’ segregationist white mayor Henry Loeb III allegedly called black restaurant workers n*ggers and told them to go back to Africa. In the next breath, she bragged about her wealth, as captured on a recording released earlier this month.
Here’s how the Loeb family wealth was made, at least in part: By paying black workers poverty wages for decades.
If you’ve heard of the Loeb name, it’s probably because of Loeb Properties, a real estate giant in the Mid-South. It grew from the Loeb business empire, which dates back to 1887, 24 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. The empire got its start with dozens of laundries.
Many of those laundry workers were black. Most were underpaid. On Henry Loeb III, from Michael K. Honey’s “Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign.”
From a 2002 dissertation on Henry Loeb III, written by Mantri Sivananda:
How much were Memphis Steam Laundry and Cleaners paid? Very, very little. Payroll records from 1963 show that women who did flatwork made less than 80 cents per hour. (Stay tuned for legible photos of Memphis Steam Laundry payroll records.)
Tellingly, Loeb descendants have a different recollection of the family legacy.
If you know someone (or the descendant of someone) who worked at a Loeb laundry, barbecue or convenience store, I’d love to talk to him/her. Please have them contact me through this site.
BACKSTORY: Henry Loeb III is the white segregationist mayor whose refusal to negotiate with striking black sanitation workers drew Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis nearly 50 years ago. King was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968; Time magazine blamed Loeb for King’s death.
The Loeb name has been in the news lately after a recording of a racist, violent, elitist rant — allegedly made by Henry Loeb III’s granddaughter, Lauren Loeb toward black restaurant employees in Turks and Caicos — surfaced. It’s an involved story (Read more about it here and Tami Sawyer’s take on a solution here and see the transcript of the recording here)but the relevant part is this: The woman on the recording calls these black workers the n-word more times than you could count and boasts of her wealth.
It’s the wealth part that caught my eye. Lauren Loeb’s attorney disputes that his client was on the call, but regardless of whether that’s true, the Loeb name is rightly associated with riches.
Today the Loeb name is most often found in connection with Loeb Properties, a real estate giant in the Mid-South that manages more than 2 million square feet of property. The firm redeveloped Overton Square, Broad Avenue and is redeveloping Highland Row.
Loeb Properties is the modern-day iteration of a collection of Loeb family businesses — commercial laundries, coin operated laundries, barbecue restaurants and convenience stores.
The family business was started by Henry Loeb Sr. in 1887, 24 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. The owners of Loeb Properties — Bob and Louis Loeb — today are Henry Loeb III’s nephews.