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Oral History Interview with Asa T. Spaulding, April 13, 1979. Interview C-0013-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Asa T. Spaulding was born in rural North Carolina in 1902, but his scholastic aptitude soon removed him from the farm where he spent his childhood. After a high school education in Durham, North Carolina, Spaulding earned a degree from New York University and received training as an actuary at the University of Michigan. He returned to Durham to take a position at the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, a historically African American company where he spent his career seeking balance in his professional and personal life. He was president of the company from 1959 until he retired in 1969. Spaulding spends most of this interview describing his early life. He describes his rural community; he remembers applying his disciplined mind to his studies in New York City and Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he experienced some, but not much, racial discrimination; he recalls the transition from reliance on black burial associations to larger life insurance companies and his role in modernizing insurance practice; and he reflects on the nature of citizenship and humanity. Spaulding was a hard worker and a spiritual man who valued his time spent teaching the Bible. A self-reliant man, he cast his vote for Richard Nixon in 1972 but condemns him for his greed. This interview sheds light on a pioneering career and a set of beliefs behind a successful businessman and spiritually fulfilled person.

    Researchers and students might also consult the two other interviews with Spaulding in this collection, C-0013-2 and C-0013-3. Those interested in learning more about the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company and black business in the South might turn to the interviewer's book, Black Business in the New South: A Social History of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company.

    Excerpts
  • Social life in a rural community
  • A working family on a working farm
  • Entertainment in early twentieth-century rural North Carolina
  • Racial mingling in a North Carolina community
  • A successful student becomes a successful teacher
  • Selling insurance to rural customers by using titles
  • Dealing with discrimination at NYU in the 1920s
  • A country boy is not intimidated by New York City
  • Academic excellence breaks down racial barriers
  • An African American in Ann Arbor, Michigan, does not experience discrimination
  • The rise of insurance companies and the accumulation of history
  • A belief in contributing to his community
  • Reflections on a balanced life
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.