Marker is located on the Southeast Corner of Arctic and Kentucky Avenues.
“KY and the Curb,” the block of Kentucky Avenue from Arctic to Atlantic Avenues, was an epicenter of community and nightlife activity for Atlantic City’s African American population for much of the 20th century. As a worker in no less than three Kentucky Avenue barbershops, Sonny Lea has been witness to it all. During his time at Grace’s Little Belmont Hair Salon, which was located right across the street from Club Harlem, Sonny often received famous performers as clients. Slappy White, BB King, and even Muhammad Ali were among a long list of celebrities that had their hair cut by Sonny. Sonny Lea first came to Atlantic City in 1960, and performed a series of jobs around the resort, including busing tables at Child’s Restaurant and the Knife and Fork Inn, and working as a bellhop and doorman at the Empress and Mayflower hotels. It is in his career as a barber, however, that he has left his mark on the Atlantic City community. Sonny has served as a mentor and father figure to countless neighborhood youths over the years. During the dedication ceremony for his marker, Councilman Frank Gilliam spoke of how Sonny’s caring even extended to sending him care packages while away at college. Another speaker touched on the significance of Sonny’s marker only bearing one date, and how fitting it is to honor him during his lifetime. Sonny Lea’s marker is located at the corner of Arctic and Kentucky Avenues, just down the street from Sonny’s Hair Salon.