Title: Oral History Interview with Asa T. Spaulding, April 16, 1979. Interview C-0013-3.
Interviewer: Weare, Walter
Interviewee: Spaulding, Asa T.
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. Spaulding eventually held its presidency, and before, during, and after attaining this leadership position, used his influence to advance the interests of the African American community. Spaulding remembers some of those efforts in this interview, including an unsuccessful try for the mayoralty in Durham and his support for a community grocery store. At the heart of this interview, sharing space with Spaulding and his relatively conservative approach to civil rights agitation, are other African American and white civil rights leaders Spaulding worked with, including the fiery but effective Dan Martin, the organizer Howard Fuller, educator Charles R. Moore, and John Wheeler, who helmed the Durham Committee on Negro Affairs. Spaulding's discussion of the committee, as well as North Carolina Mutual, highlights the importance of Durham's African American organizations in sustaining a vibrant black community, and their uncertain future in a changing state. Researchers and students interested in economic empowerment, community organizing, and African American business will find much of interest in this interview.
Researchers and students might also consult the two other interviews with Spaulding in this collection, C-0013-1 and C-0013-2. 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.