Friday, July 21, 2006

Found this.

I was looking at this picture of a building in Bronzeville that formerly housed a black-owned insurance company. Then I got to thinking about the fabled Supreme Life Liberty Insurance Company which seemed to disappear off the face of the earth in the 1980s. See I used to see advertisements for this company in Ebony magazine in the 1980s. Then beyond a certain point nothing.

Then I find this tidbit in the Encyclopedia of Chicago...
The Great Migration of African Americans to Chicago during the First World War spurred the next major development in Chicago insurance: the creation of insurance companies to serve the black community. In the 1890s the life insurance industry's discriminatory practices had led to a proliferation of black-owned companies in throughout the South. Chicago's Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company, founded by Arkansas native Frank Gillespie in 1919, was the first Northern black-owned insurance company. A tradition of saving for a dignified funeral made Chicago's black community an enthusiastic and stable market for life insurance, despite its poverty. Black-owned insurance companies were one of the few sources of white-collar jobs for Chicago's African Americans, and some firms, like the Chicago Metropolitan Assurance Company (founded 1925), evoked nationalist sentiment by appealing to their policyholders' “race pride.” However, the loss of African American customers to large insurers and the catastrophic black unemployment of the 1980s ended the age of the independent black insurance company. Supreme Life was purchased by a national white-owned insurer, but Metropolitan Assurance was acquired in 1990 by the black-owned Atlanta Life Insurance Companies.
Now I know the fate of a very important relic in black Chicago history. The building that once housed this company and also Johnson Publishing is home to a bank, and a cellular phone company among other things having been restored recently.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are now moderated because one random commenter chose to get comment happy. What doesn't get published is up to my discretion. Of course moderating policy is subject to change. Thanks!