Coat and Hat: Visionary Leadership in the New South 

Historical Markers

This art installation celebrates the incredible vision held by Parrish Street's black leaders, who were able to build positive relationships with people from all races while creating successful business, cultural institutions and educational institutions throughout Durham. North Carolina Mutual and its founders well illustrate this theme. NC Mutual has been a catalyst for minority, social and economic development throughout its history, with racial self-help and uplift being traditions of the Company that date back to its founding. In fact, the phrase "merciful to all" was the company's first motto.

With a sense of corporate social consciousness and responsibility, the Company formulated its concept of the Double-Duty Dollar. Modeled after popular mutual benefit societies the concept was based on the premise that income from insurance sales could be channeled back into the community. Throughout its history, the Company has had programs to build strong black families and communities through jobs, investments, loans, contributions and support of social programs. (Text courtesy of NC Mutual,

N.C. Mutual Life Insurance Company Officers. ca. 1911. Left to right: A.M. Moore, John M. Avery,
John Merrick, Ed Merrick, C.C. Spaulding. Black History Exhibit, Durham County Centennial, 1981.
Courtesy Durham Public Library, NC Collection.

Much of the success of Black Wall Street can be attributed to the visionary leadership of NC Mutual Life's founders:

John Merrick - The first dreamer and leader. A former slave, who learned to read and write in a Reconstruction School. He later became a brick mason in Raleigh, North Carolina and learned the barber trade during a lull in construction. Subsequently, he moved to Durham owning several barber shops, some of which catered to wealthy white men. He was involved in real estate and the Royal Knights of King David, a fraternal benefit society. It was there, Merrick got the notion of life insurance from the very popular mutual benefit societies developing in the south. A seed had been planted. Merrick was born on September 7, 1859 and died August 6, 1919.

Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore - A humanitarian. Born September 6, 1863 of free parents. He taught high school for several years and attended medical school at Shaw University's Leonard Medical School. He was the first Black person to practice medicine in the city of Durham. Dr. Moore was the Company's first treasurer and wielded wide influence in the city. He was instrumental in starting other enterprises such as a drug company, Lincoln Hospital and a library. He became president of the Company following Merrick's death in 1919. He devoted full time to working for North Carolina Mutual until his death in 1923.

Charles Clinton Spaulding - The builder. Born in Columbus County, North Carolina, August 1, 1874. He came to Durham at age twenty and attended high school graduating in 1898. He began his career as a part-time agent with the Company and went on to become general manager in less than a year. Spaulding served in various capacities, i.e., as agent, clerk, janitor and general manager. He was named president in 1923, a post he held until his death in 1952. In addition to his career in life insurance, he was widely respected. Mr. Spaulding served on Howard University's board of trustees from 1936 until his death in 1952.

Merrick-Moore-Spaulding National Achievement Award. Courtesy North Carolina Mutual Archives, Duke University Libraries.

In May 1967, the N.C. Mutual Board of Directors authorized the Merrick-Moore-Spaulding National Achievement Award Medallion to be presented each year in connection with the Founder's Day observance. Robert C. Weaver was the first recipient of the award on October 20, 1967.