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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Asa T. Spaulding, April 13, 1979. Interview C-0013-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A belief in contributing to his community

As Spaulding remembers some of the officers of North Carolina Mutual, he shares his belief that people are measured by what they contribute to their society, not what they take from it.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Asa T. Spaulding, April 13, 1979. Interview C-0013-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

When you came to Durham, you came under the tutelage of people who would reinforce this, perhaps. Is that true or not? C.C. Spaulding, Dr. Moore, especially. And that raises an interesting question about Durham, this notion that Durham was special, a middle class here that was different than say, a middle class in Harlem, or a middle class in Atlanta.
It's been historically true that the major officers, and not only them but the clerical staffof North Carolina Mutual, have all been church-going people, have taken leading roles in church life. That doesn't mean that they lived a perfect life; nobody does. But they had an ideal; they had a goal; they had a certain sense of values. The frailities of human nature are just such that even if you try to take biblical characters. Paul said, ‘Behold when I would do good, evil is ever present.’ He was always having to fight it, have a struggle. Anyone has a struggle, because there are so many temptations. And you take people who get themselves involved financially, and bind themselves in the of the law. Just like the president of this bank up here, Northwestern. And just like Smith Bagley now, the Reynolds family. Greed doesn't pay. And I have said over and over again, in my scale of values, a man's true worth to society is better measured by the contributions he makes to it than by what he takes from it. Because you can't take it with you.
And these values were here when you came in to Durham, were they not? As you travelled and say, went to Memphis, an important town for black insurance, did you see a different life style there among the so-called $ack middle class?
Uh huh. Well then, North Carolina Mutual has always said, it was not organized to try to make millionaires, it was organized to be of service to its people. That's why it was organized as a mutual company, rather than stock. Go to Memphis, those are stock companies. It was suggested to the officers years ago to convert North Carolina Mutual into a stock company and make a million. They'd have no part of it.