Civil War Series
John Merrick was born into slavery, and at the time of his birth, African-Americans were easily insurable … as property. But by the time Merrick was a free adult, most black men, women, and children couldn’t get an insurance policy. Most insurance companies simply wouldn’t cover African-Americans.
So in 1898, Merrick cofounded what is known today as the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, which was initially created to solve a big problem: helping black families afford a proper burial.
Funerals — known as homegoings — have long been a proud tradition in the black community. In the late 19th century, even the insurance companies that would serve black people tended to charge astronomical premiums. But African-Americans were, and still are, likelier to be poor and to die earlier than white people. As a result, many untimely black deaths came with anotherRead More