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Oral History Interview with Asa T. Spaulding, April 14, 1979. Interview C-0013-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Asa T. Spaulding, longtime actuary at the historically black North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company and its president from 1959 to 1968, recalls his efforts to prepare Durham, North Carolina, for desegregation. Spaulding grew up in an environment relatively free from discrimination, so after his education at New York University and the University of Michigan, he brought to Durham a determination that racial barriers were artificial and needed to be dismantled. He did so not with overt activism, but by using his influence to bring together white and black business leaders at North Carolina Mutual. These business meetings not only brought together creative thinkers, they also modeled successful integration before the civil rights movement had scored its victories in the early 1960s. In this interview, Spaulding reflects on how his growing influence as a business leader allowed him to make unique contributions to dismantling segregation in Durham.

    Researchers and students might also consult the two other interviews with Spaulding in this collection, C-0013-1 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
  • Working long hours at the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company
  • Remembering a hard-working father
  • Segregation fails to penetrate a rural community
  • An influential business leader flouts segregation
  • Modeling integration at the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company
  • Bringing together white and black business leaders
  • Pragmatic efforts at integration
  • Demonstrating racial harmony for an African head of state
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  • 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.