Oral Histories

Interview of George A. Beavers

Co-founder, director, and chair of Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, one of the largest Black-owned insurance companies in the United States.
In Quest of Full Citizenship
Black Leadership in Los Angeles
African American History
Biographical Note:
Co-founder, director, and chair of Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, one of the largest Black-owned insurance companies in the United States.
Hopkins, Ranford B.
Beavers, George A. $q (George Allen), $c Jr., $d 1891-1989
Persons Present:
Beavers and Hopkins.
Place Conducted:
Beavers's home in Los Angeles.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Ranford B. Hopkins, assistant editor, UCLA Oral History Program; B.A., M.A., History, UC, Santa Barbara. Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, UC, Santa Barbara; current research entitled, "Leadership and the Growth of the Afro-American Community of Los Angeles, 1900-1965"; interviewer was born, raised, and has resided in Los Angeles for twenty-two years.Hopkins prepared for the interview by reviewing Beavers's personal files, reports, and documents at Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, and articles on Beavers published in the Los Angeles Sentinel and the Los Angeles Times. Hopkins also contacted and talked with individuals who have worked with Beavers.
Processing of Interview:
Michael S. Balter edited the interview. He checked the verbatim transcript of the interview against the original tape recordings, edited for punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling, and verified proper names. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed.Beavers reviewed and approved the edited transcript. He made no corrections or additions. William E. Pajaud, vice-president-secretary and director of public relations, Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, provided essential aid in verifying spellings and identities of the many persons mentioned in the course of the interview.David P. Gist, editorial assistant, prepared the table of contents, biographical summary, and index.
9.75 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
Interviews in this series were made possible by support from the UCLA Center for African American Studies, Institute of American Cultures. This is the first of several Oral History Program series focusing on social, cultural, economic, and political aspects of African American citizens in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
Social activities -- The Negro baseball league and its star players -- Founding of People's Independent Church of Christ -- Reverend Napolean P. Greggs -- Church founders' community roles -- Real estate business open to blacks -- Young People's Lyceum of People's Independent Church -- Holman United Methodist Church -- Prominent blacks affiliated with churches.
More on the company and Beavers's personal philosophy -- Breaking race barriers in competing white-owned companies -- Providing opportunities for young employees.
William Nickerson's founding principles -- Breakdown of responsibilities within Golden State -- Golden State's ties to churches -- Support from Assemblyman Fred Roberts -- Company expansion and redistribution of duties -- Beavers's civic activities and grand jury responsibilities -- National Negro Insurance Association -- Breaking race barriers.
Golden State's racial policies -- Golden State Minority Foundation -- William Nickerson's family background and experience with American Mutual Benefit Association -- Norman Houston: family and educational background, service in World War I, early experience in insurance -- Golden State during the Depression era.
Strong bond between Golden State and black churches -- Golden State expands during Depression era -- Great Migration provides growing clientele -- Expansion to Chicago -- Cooperation between competing black-owned insurance companies -- Finding clientele during the Depression era -- Enormous growth in 1940s and 1950s -- Technology and modernization -- Beavers's priorities for the black community.
Policyholder and employee financial security -- Leadership opportunities -- Retirement plan -- Monarch Award -- Prominent women at Golden State -- Golden State's commendation system -- Commendations recognizing Beavers's accomplishments: selective service board, postwar reemployment programs, community affairs, Citizens' Committee on Crime and Police Brutality in the Negro Community.
More commendations: George Washington Carver Citation, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Award -- Founding of the fraternity -- Beavers's role in the Community Chest -- More human relations and community services awards -- Award from the Los Angeles Region Welfare Planning Council -- Beavers's election to presidency of National Insurance Association -- More community, church service, and human relations awards.
Los Angeles Housing Authority Commission: Beavers's service -- Controversy over public housing -- Implementation of public housing programs -- Other black commission members -- Function of commission -- Beavers's election as commission president -- Pressure from the House Un-American Activities Committee -- Sale of Chavez Ravine property to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Mayor Norris Poulson -- More on Chavez Ravine -- Disagreements between Beavers and Mayor Sam Yorty -- Beavers's roles on Mayor's Committee on Major League Baseball and Mayor's Citizens Committee to Study Zoological Problems -- Geographical and political boundaries to Chavez Ravine -- Los Angeles County Redevelopment Association -- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP): Beavers's involvement, reaction to arrest of Dr. H. Claude Hudson for sunbathing at the beach.
Young Men's Christian Association, importance to black community in east Los Angeles -- YMCA, an early sponsor of desegregation -- Beavers's involvement -- Los Angeles Urban League -- Skilled-labor job-training programs -- Enlisting Hollywood community support -- Hollywood community makes the legal defense fund a major issue of the NAACP -- Relationship between the NAACP and the Urban League -- Beavers's perception of NAACP's function in the whole of society -- Churches'influence upon black, community and society.
Improved social conditions for blacks -- Black community organizations involved in civil rights -- Challenges facing the disadvantaged under the Reagan administration -- Beavers's political affiliation and voting history -- Republican party alienates blacks -- Black support shifts to Democratic party -- Necessary steps for progress of black community -- Los Angeles black community contrasted to those of other large cities -- Opportunities for blacks greater in the western United States -- Willie Mae Beavers's death -- Second marriage to Lola Lillian Cunningham.
Current status of Golden State -- Fellows in Life Insurance Management -- Coping with difficult economic conditions -- Preparing for future difficulties -- Beavers's association with Richard Nixon -- Distinction between politics and civil rights -- Nixon's attitude toward civil rights -- Ralphe Bunche's association with Beavers -- Bunche's influence upon Beavers and upon society.
Betty Hill -- Kenny Washington -- Opportunities for black athletes to improve themselves -- Jackie Robinson.