While most period TV series are insistent on excluding the African-American experience, one of “Boardwalk Empire’s” most prominent mobsters is Chalky White. Portrayed by Michael K. Williams (“The Wire”), Chalky is far from the token Black sidekick; smart, cunning and ruthless, Chalky is the de facto leader of the African-American community in Atlantic City. But even with the spoils of money and power, Chalky came from a childhood marred by tragedy. Chalky’s father, a talented carpenter was commissioned to build an an elaborate bookcase by a wealthy town member, which aroused feelings of jealousy in other White carpenters and led to Chalky’s father being lynched.
Determined to escape his father’s fate, Chalky moved to Atlantic City in the late 1890’s and ran dice games by the beach. After allying himself with then sheriff Nucky Thompson, Chalky amassed enough wealth and influence to be the unofficial spokesman for the Black community.
Chalky is now living the American dream, with a beautiful wife, children and one of the most luxurious homes in Atlantic City. But how long can Chalky’s empire last under the specter of organized crime?
Tune in to the season premiere of “Boardwalk Empire” Sunday September 8th on HBO at 9pm Eastern.