When I'm Gone:

Spotlight on NC Mutual Life Insurance Company

Who will mourn me when I'm gone,
Stand over me to whisper prayers,
Forgotten memories and experiences
Depict the ripples of my existence, hear
In the words of the community I leave behind...
Adorn my casket in sweet scented flowers
Look after the family I leave behind,
Worry not at my expenses
As they lay me down to rest
But remember my worth
My words, my laugh, my smile--
Be at peace with a life lived and passed away
In the hopes of continuing on our legacy.

In 1898, North Carolina became home to the first black owned and black serving insurance company. Founded by John Merrick and Dr. Allen McDuffie Moore, North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company is the only insurance company based in North Carolina with a founding date before 1900 and is the largest black life insurance company in the US. Merrick was a former slave and brick mason who came up with the idea based on the mutual benefit societies of the south. Dr. Moore, who was born free, attended medical school and was the first black medical practitioner in Durham, NC. He started many other enterprises such as a hospital, drug company, and library [1]. The two men pooled their own money to personally finance the company from its inception in 1898 until 1903. The company was able to expand by absorbing fallen companies and buying into Mechanics and Farmers (another black owned business). Friends with Booker T. Washington, Dr. Moore and Merrick based their company on his philosophy of self-help advocacy and adhered to the principle of mutual aid, supporting the National Negro Business League [2].  As blacks began migrating north to Chicago, Frank L. Gillespie saw the need to provide northern blacks with insurance coverage as well. In 1919 he started Liberty Life Insurance (now Supreme Life Insurance) which would become the first black owned and serving insurance company in the north. Pictured above is the Supreme Life Building in Chicago which was built in 1921 and designated a Chicago Landmark in 1998 [3].


  1. "North Carolina Mutual". NC Mutual Life; visited February 2014
  2. Rodney D. Barfield and John F. Ansley. "North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance". North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. 2006
  3. "Supreme Life Building". Chicago Landmarks; visited 2014
  4. "African Americans in the Insurance Business: Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Co.". Black History Heroes; visited 2014
  5. "Mechanics and Farmers". Mechanics and Farmers; visited February 2014
  6. "Booker T. Washington". Biography; visited 2014

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