This Day in History: 1899-04-01

Serial African American entrepreneur and successful businessman John Merrick establishes the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company (“NC Mutual”, successor to the North Carolina Mutual and Provident Society which he had co-founded the year prior). Born into slavery in Clinton, North Carolina, Merrick founded various companies in the Raleigh, North Carolina and Durham, North Carolina areas. Portions of his wealth were channeled back into the black community through philanthropy. His business acumen and social consciousness made him one of the most influential members of the African-American community in his lifetime. Merrick gained his first business success by founding a chain of barbershops catering to wealthy white men. Merrick parlayed his wealth from the barber business into other ventures that served the Black community, including NC Mutual (thr oldest and largest Black-owned life insurance company), the Mechanics and Farmers Bank (the first bank in Durham owned and controlled by African Americans), and Bull City Drug Company (a much-needed African American drug store in Durham). Learn more.