Because African Americans historically did not have access to insurance provided by white-controlled companies, black-owned and -operated insurance businesses turned out to be one of the first and most successful types of black enterprise. Evolving from mutual aid and church-related societies, companies such as Atlanta Life, Supreme Life, and North Carolina Mutual grew to be major corporations. Weems, an assistant history professor at the University of Missouri at Columbia, profiles Chicago Metropolitan Assurance Company, which, unlike those other companies, had more controversial beginnings. Originally founded in 1925 as the Metropolitan Funeral System Association, it relied on gambling income for capital. Originally submitted as Weems' doctoral dissertation at the University of Wisconsin, this history has been updated with an epilogue analyzing the "demise" of the Chicago company (it is now a division of Atlanta Life) and the problems faced by African American^-owned insurance companies in today's market. Weems' well-researched book provides an in-depth look not only at black-owned business but also at a then-new metropolitan black community. David Rouse
From the Back Cover
The discriminatory lending practices of white-controlled banks often inspired pioneering Black businesses such as Chicago Met to raise operating and investment capital from less conventional sources such as gambling winnings. These companies were critical to economic development within Black communities. By providing white-collar jobs to men and women who were otherwise denied access to such opportunities, and by helping to create a Black bourgeois class and culture. Black businesses exemplified self-help ideology and nationalist inclinations in Black working-class communities of the urban North.