Thursday, March 11, 2010

Price and Spaulding

Joseph Price and Charles Spaulding
Joseph Charles Price, founder and first president of Livingston College, in North Carolina, was born free on February 10, 1854 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. His mother, a free black woman named Emily Paulin, moved with her son to New Bern, North Carolina which was then occupied by Union forces, to escape the violence of the Civil War. Shortly after, she married David Price and Joseph took his stepfather's name.  In New Bern Joseph Price studied at St. Cyprian Episcopal School founded for the children of ex-slaves by Boston educators.  He later attended Shaw University in Raleigh in 1873 but transferred to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1875.  Price graduated as valedictorian in 1879 after winning several oratorical prizes.  Impressed with the young Price, Bishop James Walker Hood of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church appointed him to its delegation to the World Ecumenical Conference meeting in London, England.

In London, Price amazed audiences with his powerful speaking.  Called "The World's Orator" by the British press, Price was encouraged by the delegation to stay in England and raise funds for the reestablishment of Zion Wesley Institute, later to be Livingston College.  The original school was founded in 1870 as a seminary for training A.M.E. Zion ministers, but closed after only three years in operations.  Over the next year, Price was able to raise $10,000 for the school, and returned to North Carolina in 1882.  The town of Salisbury offered the school $1,000 and 40 acres called "Delta Grove" belonging to J.M. Gray.  The school opened later that year with 28-year-old Joseph Price as its president.

For the next ten years Price served as president of Livingston College. In 1890 he became involved in the Afro-American League and was elected president of the National Protective Association.  That same year he was voted one of the "Ten Greatest Negroes Who Ever Lived." Price advocated education to help ameliorate the damages done by generations of slavery and discrimination for whites as well as blacks. He died in Salisbury, North Carolina in 1893.

Charles Clinton Spaulding, an African-American business leader, was born in 1874. He built the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company into the nation's largest black-owned business by the time of his death in 1952, when it was worth about $40 million.

Spaulding was born in Columbus County, North Carolina, and left his father's farm at the age of 20. He moved to Durham, N.C.,, where in 1898, he completed what was equivalent to a high school education and became the manager of a black-owned grocery store. In 1899, the recently established North Carolina Mutual and Provident Association hired him as a part-time agent. The following year, he was promoted to full-time general manager, the companies’ only full-time position.

Spaulding was an early proponent of saturation advertising, inundating local businesses with promotional items bearing his company's name. In the first decade of the century, the company prospered, establishing subsidiaries and supporting a variety of local businesses. Spaulding was elevated to vice president in 1908, and then to secretary-treasurer in 1919, when the firm officially changed its name to the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. By 1920, the company had over 1,000 employees and several offices along the East Coast. In 1923, Spaulding became president, a position he held until his death in 1952. North Carolina Mutual continued to grow and to establish more black-operated subsidiaries in the 1920s. His financial reorganization of the company insured its survival during the economic depression of the 1930s.

Although he was best noted for his business leadership, Spaulding was also involved in political and educational issues. As national chairman of the Urban League's Emergency Advisory Council in the 1930s, he campaigned to secure New Deal jobs for African-Americans. As chairman of the Durham Committee on Negro Affairs, he engaged in voter registration efforts and convinced city officials to hire black police officers. Spaulding also supported education for blacks while serving as a trustee for Howard University, Shaw University, and North Carolina College. He died in 1952.

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1 comment:

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