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ai M 



IN QUEST OF FULL CITIZENSHIP 



George Beavers 



Interviewed by Ranford B. Hopkins 



Completed under the auspices 

of the 

Oral History Program 

University of California 

Los Angeles 



Copyright ® 1985 
The Regents of the University of California 



COPYRIGHT LAW 



The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, 
United States Code) governs the making of photocopies 
or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under 
certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and 
archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other 
reproduction. One of these specified conditions is 
that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be used 
for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, 
or research. If a user makes a request for, or later 
uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in 
excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for 
copyright infringement. This institution reserves the 
right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its 
judgement, fulfillment of the order would involve 
violation of copyright law. 



RESTRICTIONS ON THIS INTERVIEW 



None , 



LITERARY RIGHTS AND QUOTATION 



This manuscript is hereby made available for research 
purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, 
including the right to publication, are reserved to 
the University Library of the University of California, 
Los Angeles. No part of the manuscript may be quoted 
for publication without the written permission of the 
University Librarian of the University of California, 
Los Angeles. 



CONTENTS 

Biographical Summary viii 

Interview History xiii 

TAPE NUMBER: I, Side One (April 29, 1982) 1 

Family background--Memories of Atlanta--Early 
impressions of Los Angeles: jobs, education, 
church — Marriage--Series of jobs--Social life in 
church and Young Men's Christian Association-- 
Role in World War I--Black hospitals and hospital 
integration — The Great Migration. 

TAPE NUMBER: I, Side Two (April 29, 1982) 19 

Rapid growth of Los Angeles' black community — 
Housing problems--Racial discrimination in real 
estate — Black movements for equality and 
justice--A message for young people. 

TAPE NUMBER: II, Side One (May 4, 1982) 25 

Social activities--The Negro baseball league 
and its star players — Founding of People's 
Independent Church of Christ--Reverend Napoleon 
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. 

TAPE NUMBER: III, Side One (May 11, 1982) 41 

Founding of Golden State Mutual Life Insurance 
Company--Pr incipal founders Norman Houston, 
William Nickerson and George A. Beavers — 
Development of company through sale of 
"certificates of contribution" to community 
supporters--California legislature doubles 
required number of applicants with premiums 
paid and financial guarantee fund in attempt to 
prevent creation of a black-owned insurance 
company--Last minute fundraising — Branching out 
to Oakland--Learning the insurance business 
from William Nickerson — Golden State's 
philosophy of business. 



IV 



TAPE NUMBER: III, Side Two (May 11, 1982) 57 

More on the company and Beavers 's personal 
philosophy — Breaking race barriers in competing 
white-owned companies — Providing opportunities 
for young employees. 

TAPE NUMBER: IV, Side One (June 1, 1982) 61 

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. 

TAPE NUMBER: IV, Side Two (June 1, 1982) 77 

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. 

TAPE NUMBER: V, Side One (June 12, 1982) 90 

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. 

TAPE NUMBER: VI, Side One (June 22, 1982) 108 

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 accomplish- 
ments: selective service board, postwar 
reemployment programs, community affairs. 



Citizens' Committee on Crime and Police 
Brutality in the Negro Community. 

TAPE NUMBER: VI, Side Two (June 22, 1982) 126 

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. 

TAPE NUMBER: VII, Side One (July 1, 1982) 140 

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. 

TAPE NUMBER: VII, Side Two (July 1, 1982) 158 

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 . 

TAPE NUMBER: VIII, Side One (July 8, 1982) 175 

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 



VI 



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. 

TAPE NUMBER: VIII, Side Two (July 8, 1982) 190 

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--3lack 
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. 

TAPE NUMBER: IX, Side One (July 27, 1982) 203 

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. 

TAPE NUMBER: IX, Side Two (July 27, 1982) 218 

Betty Hill — Kenny Washington — Opportunities for 
black athletes to improve themselves--Jackie 
Robinson. 

Index 224 



Vll 



BIOGRAPHICAL SUMMARY 

PERSONAL HISTORY: 

Born ; October 30, 1891, in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Education : Los Angeles High School, Los Angeles, 
California; attended extension division classes of the 
University of California, Los Angeles, and continuing 
education classes at the University of Southern California. 

Spouses ; Willie Mae Hutcherson: married 1911, deceased 
1931; Lola Lillian Cunningham: married 1936. 

BUSINESS HISTORY: 

Superintendent, American Mutual Benefit Association, 
1922-25. 

Co-organizer and vice-president/director of agencies. 
Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, 1925-45. 

Chairman of the board, chairman of executive and agency 
committees. Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, 
1945-51. 

Chairman of the board and treasurer. Golden State Mutual 
Life Insurance Company, 1951-56. 

Chairman of the board. Golden State Mutual Life Insurance 
Company, 1956-65. 

Chairman emeritus and member of the board of directors, 
Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, 1965-80. 

Chairman emeritus, director emeritus and co-founder. 
Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, 1980 to the 
present. 

ORGANIZATIONS AND AFFILIATIONS: 

National Insurance Association, vice-president, 1931-32; 
president, 1962-63. 

Allied Organization Against Discrimination in National 
Defense, president, 1942. 

Citizens' Committee on Crime and Police Brutality in the 
Negro Community, chairman, 1947. 



vm 



Los Angeles Housing Authority Commission, 1946-62; acting 
vice-chairman, 1952-53; chairman, 1953-62. 

Urban League home building and finance committee, 
chairman, 1951. 

Freedom Fund Campaign, national advisory committee, 1957. 

Los Angeles Town Hall, board of governors, 1964-67. 

OTHER AFFILIATIONS: 

All Nations Foundation, board of trustees. 

Attorney General's Advisory Council, State of California. 

Avalon Community Center (president for two years). 

Commission on Equal Opportunities in Education, State of 
California, chairman. 

Community Health Association (treasurer for two years). 

Community Welfare Federation of Los Angeles, budget 
committee. 

Cosmopolitan Golf Club. 

District Attorney's Advisory Council. 

First African Methodist Episcopal Church, choir. 

Foundation for Promotion of Equality in Professional 
Goals, president. 

Goodwill Industries of Southern California, board of 
governors. 

Grand Jurors Association of Los Angeles County. 

Holman Methodist Church, member and past chairman of 
board of trustees. 

Chicago Round Table of Commerce, interim committee. 
Los Angeles Area War Chest, board of directors. 

Los Angeles County Conference on Community Relations, 
advisory committee. 



LX 



Los Angeles Family Welfare Association, board oi: 
directors and secretary-treasurer. 

Los Angeles Metropolitan Welfare Council, board of 
directors . 

Los Angeles Jletropolitan Young Men's Christian 
Association, board of directors. 

Los Angeles Rams Fan Club, charter member; served two 
terms on board of directors. 

Los Angeles Urban League, board of directors, for two 
three-year terms; president for three years. 

Mayor's Citizens Committee to Study Zoological Problems. 

Mayor's Committee on Major League Baseball. 

Men of Tomorrow. 

Merchants and Manufacturers, employee practices 
committee . 

National Association for the Advancement of Colored 
People, life member; served two terms as member of life 
membership committee; guaranteed financial security of 
the Los Angeles branch for ten years. 

National Association of Housing and Redevelopment 
Officials, board of governors, two years. 

National Conference of Christians and Jews, member of 
board and vice-chairman of the Southern California 
region. 

National Housing Conference, board of directors. 

People's Independent Church of Christ, chairman of 
trustee board, six years. 

People's Independent Church of Christ, clerk, fifteen 
years. 

People's Independent Church of Christ, choir. 

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. 

Republican Community Advisory Committee. 



Twenty-eighth Street Young Men's Christian Association, 
board of directors. 

United Negro College Fund, national vice-chairman. 

United Republican Finance Committee. 

United Services Organization, Inc., Los Angeles area, 
board of directors. 

Urban League, board of directors, three years. 

Welfare Federation of Los Angeles, board of governors. 

HONORS, AWARDS OF MERIT, AND CITATIONS: 

Certificate of Appreciation from Franklin D. Roosevelt, 
president of the United States, in recognition of 
patriotic services rendered in aiding the administration 
of the Selective Service and Training Act, 1943. 

Certificate of Merit from Harry S. Truman, president of 
the United States, for service in connection with the Re- 
employment Program, 1946. 

First African Methodist Episcopal Church Certificate of 
Merit, in recognition of achievements in the interest and 
welfare of the community and unselfish devotion to 
religious, civic, and cultural advance of our city, 
state, and nation, 1946. 

Carver Citation Award, for outstanding service in 
business development of community, 1948. 

Crusade for Freedom Citation, for effective and unselfish 
service in Southern California, 1951. 

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Social Action Achievement 
Award, in recognition of meritorious service in the field 
of social action and civil rights, 1951. 

Outstanding Service Award from Los Angeles County 
Conference on Community Relations, in recognition of 
devoted effort and distinguished achievements dedicated 
to the advance of democracy and improvement of human 
relations, 1951. 

Community Chest, Women's Gold Feather Award Division, 
1953. 



X 1 



Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Human Relations Award, 1954. 

Red Feather Plaque, Community Chest Award, for 
outstanding citizenship, 1955. 

Rheingold Civic Award, "in recognition of tireless and 
unselfish devotion to his community," 1955. 

George Washington Carver Memorial Institute's Gold Award, 
for outstanding contributions to betterment of race 
relations and human welfare, 1960. 

Award of Merit for Community Welfare Service Planning 
Council, Los Angeles Region, 1962. 

Recognition Award, National Insurance Association, for 
outstanding service as president, 1963. 

Appreciation Award, from field representatives of Golden 
State Mutual Life Insurance Company, 1966. 

Appreciation Award, from home office employees of Golden 
State Mutual Life Insurance Company, 1966. 

West Los Angeles Branch, National Association for the 
Advancement of Colored People, Scroll of Honor Award, 
1966. 

Resolution of Commendation for Public Service, from Board 
of Supervisors, Los Angeles County, 1966. 

Holman Methodist Church Award, for effective service and 
leadership, 1966. 

Resolution of Commendation for Outstanding Community 
Service, from the Los Angeles City Council, 1968. 

Human Relations Award, from city of Los Angeles, 1971. 

Pioneer Award, from Los Angeles chapter. National 
Association of Media Women, Inc., 1974. 



Xll 



INTERVIEW HISTORY 



INTERVIEWER: 

Ranford B. Hopkins, assistant editor/interviewer, UCLA 
Oral History Program. B.A., M.A., History, University of 
California, Santa Barbara. Ph.D. candidate. Department of 
History, University of California, 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. 

TIME AND SETTING OF INTERVIEW: 

Place: George A. Beavers 's home in Los Angeles. 

Dates : April 29, May 4, May 11, June 1, June 12, June 22, 
July 1, July 8, July 27, 1982. An untranscribed video 
session was recorded August 8, 1982. 

Time of day, length of sessions, and total number of hours 
recorded : Interviews took place in the early afternoon. 
Each session lasted about one hour; several were slightly 
shorter and two sessions were slightly longer. A total of 
nine hours, forty-five minutes of conversation was 
recorded on audiotape, fifty-five minutes on video. 

Persons present during interview : Beavers and Hopkins. 

CONDUCT OF INTERVIEW: 

Hopkins reviewed 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 . 

The interviev/ followed a chronological outline. Hopkins 
posed questions that would yield both oral autobiography 
and documentation of the interviewee's status as a 
community leader. Particular attention was given to the 
history of Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company and 
to Beavers 's many services to the city of Los Angeles. 
Hopkins encouraged Beavers to speak freely about any 
subject he wished, and the interview contains at many 
points Beavers 's personal opinions on racial 
discrimination, civil rights, education, the black power 
movement, and community institutions. 



X 1 1 1 



EDITING: 

Michael S. Baiter 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. 

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS: 

The original tape recordings of the interview, as well as 
the untranscribed video recording, are in the university 
archives and are available under the regulations governing 
the use of permanent noncurrent records of the 
university. Records relating to the interview are located 
in the office of the UCLA Oral History Program. 



X IV 



TAPE NUMBER: I, SIDE ONE 
APRIL 29, 1982 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, I'd like to begin by discussing the 
years prior to your coming to Los Angeles. When were you 
born? 

BEAVERS: I was the first child born to George and Annie 
Beavers in Atlanta, Georgia, October 30, 1891. My early 
childhood days were spent in the city of my birth. My 
parents were — Did you want — ? 
HOPKINS: Yes, yes, their names. 

BEAVERS: My parents were George A. Beavers, Sr., and Annie 
Beavers. They were very poor economically, but rich in 
spirit and Christian principles. My earliest recollection 
of my father's employment is of his job as a laborer in a 
wholesale grocery store, at a salary of one dollar per day. 
My mother supplemented the family income by doing laundry 
work for private families. In addition, they maintained a 
vegetable garden and raised chickens. We always had food, 
clothing, and housing. As far back as I can remember, my 
parents were devoted Christians and dedicated workers in 
the African Methodist Episcopal Church. 

In quest of full citizenship rights and better living 
conditions, they moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1903. 
At that time there were three children in the family, 
George Jr., Mary Elmyra, and Leroy. A fourth child, Helen, 



was born in Los Angeles. When we came to Los Angeles my 
parents immediately joined the First A.M.E. [African 
Methodist Episcopal] church, which at that time was located 
on Azusa Street, but was soon to move to its new home, now 
remembered as historic Eighth [Street] and Towne Avenue. 
HOPKINS: Very good. What was your mother's maiden name? 
BEAVERS: Andrews. Annie Andrews. 

HOPKINS: Do you have any recollections of Atlanta? Do you 
remember Atlanta at all, as to the kind of town it was? 
BEAVERS: My recollections of Atlanta naturally are very 
limited, because I was only eleven years old when we came 
to Los Angeles. But I do remember going to elementary 
school up to the fourth grade. I went to school out 
in — well, I forget what section you call that, but it was 
right across from Spellman University — it was called the 
Old Roach Street School at the time. And we lived in a 
section called "Mechanicsville" on Humphreys Street. I 
have recollections of that, and also recollections of my 
attendance with my parents to the St. Paul's First A.M.E. 
Church. My parents were very active in that church, and I 
remember at the time Reverend — I think his name was Joseph 
Flipper, he later became a bishop. That might have to be 
checked. But also I remember that my father always took me 
to the — any big gathering where there was a discussion of 



conditions involving our race, and when there was noted 
speakers, bishops, and such characters as Booker T. 
Washington, and other leaders at the time. My father 
wanted me to get every benefit possible from hearing 
inspirational speakers and leaders. 

I remember also a very terrible race riot that resul- 
ted from some activities of a man. I don't remember his 
name now, but he killed some policemen in a little town 
called Pittsburgh, which was a suburb of Atlanta, and of 
course the excitement of the patrols going back and forth 
to the site of that incident made quite an impression. It 
was that type of thing that caused my parents to move to 
Los Angeles seeking to find better economic conditions, and 
better race relations. 

HOPKINS: Why Los Angeles? Why not Chicago or New York? 
Do you know why they chose Los Angeles over those eastern 
cities? 

BEAVERS: Well, I can't say that I do, but possibly because 
of some friends they had who had come to Los Angeles. They 
had heard from them about the splendid conditions that 
existed at the time, and Los Angeles seemed to have been a 
new heaven to the people. Particularly our people, who are 
so burdened with problems from racial segregation and 
discrimination. 



HOPKINS: Now, Mr. Beavers, what were your impressions of 
Los Angeles when you came? I know you were maybe, what, 
eleven or twelve years old at that time. Did you have an 
impression that you remember? 

BEAVERS: Oh, my impressions of course would be in the 
category of a child's impression there. I was glad to be 
with my parents and to note the changes that were talcing 
place. In fact, I felt very grateful to my parents for 
their efforts and sacrifices to provide for the family, and 
to the best of their abilities, the necessities of life, 
education, and above all, good examples of Christian 
living, concern for others, and a strong desire to see 
racial segregation and discrimination removed from American 
society. 

I recall that my first job I ever had was as a water 
boy for the Pacific Electric Railway Company. At the time 
the company was expanding its transportation system to 
serve nearby smaller cities and communities such as 
Whittier, Santa Ana, Long Beach and Santa Monica, and my 
father was employed by this company. And my first job was 
as a water boy for railway construction workers who were 
building the Pacific Electric Whittier line. It was during 
a school vacation period, and I was receiving as much 
salary per day as the daily wage previously paid to my 
father in Atlanta. 



HOPKINS: What did your father do for the railway in Los 
Angeles, at the Pacific Railway? 

BEAVERS: Well, he was one of the workers on the — He was 
employed to expand the Pacific Electric system that I 
referred to, and he worked for the Pacific Electric firm 
for a long time. But later his most permanent job was with 
the Santa Fe Railway company. He served in the building 
maintenance department at the head office in Los Angeles, 
and remained in the employment of this company until his 
retirement . 

HOPKINS: Do you remember when he retired? Approximately? 
BEAVERS: Oh, I could look that date up for you. I don't 
remember it, I don't have any independent recollection of 
it at the moment. 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, before we continue with the visit to 
Los Angeles, I would like to ask you: In Georgia, were 
your parents, did they hold positions in the A.M.E. Church? 
BEAVERS: Oh, yes. My father had a position on the stew- 
ard's board, the trustee board, and my mother was a stew- 
ardess, and active in women's clubs and that type of thing. 
HOPKINS: In relationship to the other children that you 
knew and played with, would you say that your family was 
wealthy, average, or poor? 
BEAVERS: They were poor. 



HOPKINS: Poor. All right. Now your father, when he came 
to Los Angeles, he took a position — Was the first position 
he had in Los Angeles with the Pacific Railway? 
BEAVERS: Yes. Pacific Electric. 

HOPKINS: Pacific Electric. What kind of job did he have 
actually? 

BEAVERS: As a laborer. 

HOPKINS: A laborer. Building tracks and so on? 
BEAVERS: Yeah. 

HOPKINS: Were the work teams — the contractors, the labor- 
ers — were they — Was it an integrated operation, or was it 
all black? 

BEAVERS: No, it was integrated. There were not many 
blacks here at the time. 

HOPKINS: OK. I'd like to talk about your education while 
in Los Angeles a bit. I know last time you had told me 
that you attended elementary school here, I think? 
BEAVERS: Um-hum. 

HOPKINS: Could you follow your education track here in Los 
Angeles? 

BEAVERS: Well, after completing the elementary grade 
school I went to Los Angeles High School, and followed the 
example of my parents. I became involved in church work as 
a teenager. I was active in the Young People's Christian 
Endeavor Society at First A.M.E. Church. I succeeded Paul 



R. Williams as president of this organization. Paul and I 
became good friends and that friendship continued until his 
death. I guess you recall that he was famous as an archi- 
tect, and he and I worked together in many religious and 
civic organizations. During my second year in high school 
I became engaged to marry Miss Willie Mae Hutcherson, one 
of my schoolmates. We planned to marry after completion of 
high school. Unfortunately, the next year her mother died, 
and we felt it necessary to advance the wedding date. 
HOPKINS: So, what year were you married? 
BEAVERS: What year? 
HOPKINS: Yes. 
BEAVERS: 1911. 

HOPKINS: Can you tell me something about your wife. What 
was her background? 

BEAVERS: Well, as I said, she was one of my schoolmates, 
and she and I were married in a wedding ceremony at First 
A.M.E. Church. Our first home was next door to the resid- 
ence of my parents on East Washington Street in — near Santa 
Fe Avenue. We were a very happy couple. Two years later 
we became the victims of a disastrous fire. At the time we 
had to rely on horse-drawn fire equipment. Needless to 
say, when the fire department arrived my parents' house, 
and well, both homes, my parents and ours, had been com- 
pletely destroyed. We lost everything, including household 



goods, clothing, family pictures, and records that could 
not be replaced. 

HOPKINS: Boy. What caused the fire? Do you know? 
BEAVERS: We don't know. Something, I guess something, I 
don't know whether it was electrical or what. We never did 
know the real cause of that fire. 
HOPKINS: Where was your wife born? 

BEAVERS: She was born — the first wife — she was born in 
Atlanta, Georgia. 

HOPKINS: Did you know her in Atlanta before you came? 
BEAVERS: No. 

HOPKINS: OK. Now, you stopped in school in your junior 
year, and you got married. Did you go to work once you 
were married? 

BEAVERS: Oh, yes. I went to work, my — I guess the first 
job at that time was a job at the — it was called the German- 
American Bank, and it later became a part of the Security 
National Bank, which in turn has developed into the 
Security Pacific National Bank, I think. And my job, well 
I was an elevator operator and then I was a stock clerk, 
and then a messenger. And it was during the War that 
I — the first World War that I left that job and went to 
work in Los Angeles Foundry and became a molder's helper. 
HOPKINS: Molder's helper? 
BEAVERS: Molder's helper. 



HOPKINS: What's that? I don't know. 

BEAVERS: Well, molding iron — hot iron — molding it into, at 
that time, molding it into equipment for defense indust- 
ries. 

HOPKINS: I see. Was that segregated employment then or 
was it integrated? 

BEAVERS: No. It was integrated. You have to understand 
that it was a very small Negro population in California at 
that time. And they couldn't follow the patterns of 
segregation as they, as had been done in the South, because 
there just were not enough black Americans here. So they-- 
That was to come later when they learned, learned from the 
South how to promote segregation. 

HOPKINS: OK, I'd like to come back to these war years, but 
we need to clarify a few points. The German -American Bank, 
why was it called German-American Bank? Did it have any 
relationship to German-Americans here or — 

BEAVERS: Well, of course, I didn't know at the time why it 
was called the German -American Bank. I guess they — 
Perhaps it might have been the ownership, and then it could 
have been the appeal for German patronage. I just don't 
know. I never thought of that, as to why they named it 
that. But, I know they changed the name after [Adolf] 
Hitler and his escapades over in Germany, that World War. 



HOPKINS: So it changed later in the thirties then? It 

changed in the 1930 's? The name? 

BEAVERS: Oh, it was changed — Well, it was changed before 

the thirties I think, 'cause, you know. World War I ended 

in 1918. That was the First World War, I'm not talking 

about the Second World War. 

HOPKINS: Yes. OK. Hitler is associated with the Second 

World War, and maybe — 

BEAVERS: Well, let's see, maybe they — 

HOPKINS: I know Americans were fighting the Germans in the 

First World War, maybe that was — 

BEAVERS: Well, it was the German-American Bank when I was 

working for them, and I might be in error about the time 

that they changed the name, but I think it had something to 

do with the — That might have been the Second World War. 

You're right, it could' ve been. I might have confused the 

time element there, but I know that subsequently the name 

was changed in — it became a part of the Security First 

National Bank. But I wasn't working for them at the time 

the name was changed. You see, when I was there it was the 

German-American Bank. 

HOPKINS: I see. Now, I'd like to talk again about Los 

Angeles High School. Was that the only high school in the 

city at the time you were a high school student? 



10 



BEAVERS: No, no. They had other high schools, but Los 
Angelas High School was — it was located up on North Grand 
there. Up on the hill, well that's about the same site 
where the Board of Education building is now. Of course, 
it looks a whole lot different now. [laughter] 
HOPKINS: What determined what school you went to? Did you 
have a choice as to what high school you went to? Or was 
it by neighborhoods as it is today? 

BEAVERS: It was — You were assigned according to your 
location. You were assigned a high school. You didn't 
choose. The student didn't choose. 

HOPKINS: OK. Mr. Beavers, during this time that you were 
married, say in your early twenties, during those years, 
what was the social life of youth like? What kind of 
social activities would someone like yourself be involved 
in? 

BEAVERS: Well, we were — The social life was revolved 
around churches, and so far as I was concerned, of course, 
there were other activities, dance, pavilion dance clubs, 
and — But being brought up in the Christian environment, I 
didn't have any experience with what was called the night- 
clubs, and things like that. I just didn't have time for 
it, and I didn't have that inclination of it. I was 
brought up in the, and was attracted to the work of, the 
church and the YMCA [Young Men's Christian Association] and 



11 



the charitable institutions, and community welfare and that 
kind of thing. And I just fell right into it, and I didn't 
have time for the others. There was a definite division 
there, because I remember observing, and I knew what was 
going on in some of the social activities of the young 
people, but the type of program and the surroundings of the 
nightclubs didn't appeal to me. And I don't say that with 
any feeling of downgrading anybody. There were a lot of 
good people involved in those kinds of activities, it just 
didn't appeal to me . I was too busy, I guess, with the 
other activities, trying to make conditions better and 
advance. 

HOPKINS: I've spoken to Miriam Matthews, and H. Claude 
Hudson, and others, and I asked them the same question. 
And they also did not frequent the nightclubs, and it seems 
to me the leadership — black leadership — in this city was 
not so involved in that kind of activity. Would you say, 
in generalizing, that progressive blacks at the time 
probably were not so much involved in that kind of social 
life? 

BEAVERS: Well, I think that is generally true, and I think 
the reason goes back to the important part that the church 
life played in developing — I know that I had — I was 
greatly influenced by my church activities and the training 
there and the problems that we observed, and problems that 



12 



we were trying to solve. Trying to improve conditions, you 
know, if you're dedicated to it, why you just didn't, you 
felt that you were throwing away your time when you went to 
the social clubs, and they all — The only thing they would 
do — They were drinking, and dancing and that kind of 
thing, and it just seemed to be a waste. And I think 
generally, that — And because, too, the church leadership, 
the ministers, you know, played a very important part in 
building and improving conditions, and in the final analy- 
sis it played an important part as demonstrated by the help 
they gave us in organizing the Golden State Mutual Life 
Insurance Company. 

HOPKINS: As long as we're on the church, I know you were a 
founder of People's Independent Church [of Christ] as we 
talked about last time. 
BEAVERS: I was one of the founders. 

HOPKINS: One of the founders, excuse me, one of the 
founders. Can you give me the background of how the 
People's Independent Church came into existence? 
BEAVERS: Well, can we go off the record just a bit? [tape 
recorder turned off] 

HOPKINS: OK, Mr. Beavers, we'll defer the discussion of 
People's Independent Church. Let me ask you, then, about 
your participation in World War I. 



13 



BEAVERS: During World War I, I was in a deferred classifi- 
cation and worked as a molder's helper in a Los Angeles 
foundry. During that period I was — served on the selective 
service board and I was air raid warden, and generally did 
what I could to help with the work that had to be done at 
home, so to speak, not in the foreign service. But they 
had a program worked out for those who were in a deferred 
classification, so there was some participation here at 
home. And I was active in that. 

HOPKINS: What disability allowed you to be classified for 
it? 

BEAVERS: Oh, an injury to my eye. I — In my teens, while 
chopping wood once I — I think I was about, oh, I must of 
been about sixteen or seventeen years of age — and I was 
chopping wood, and a piece of wood flew up and hit my — hit 
me in the left eye, and of course I suppose if medical 
science had advanced like they have today they might have 
been able to save that eye, but the fact of the matter is 
they didn't, and I lost [the] sight of that left eye, and I 
was in my teens. So that was the cause of my deferment. 
HOPKINS: Was that traumatic — obviously it must have been 
traumatic for you to lose the sight in that eye. Did that 
in any way influence your thoughts about life or how you 
perceived your future at all? 



14 



BEAVERS: Well, it was very discouraging to me at the time. 
I did — Oh, I was greatly disappointed, and I felt very 
badly over it for awhile, but I soon got over it, and 
thanks to the environment — my parents and the church 
environment helped me considerably. So I learned to accept 
it. 

HOPKINS: I know eventually there was a Negro hospital 
established in Los Angeles, or was there? I've read — 
BEAVERS: Yes, there was one established. It was Dr. 
[Charles] Diggs and his associates that established a Negro 
hospital. And then there was an effort made to establish 
another hospital, it was called the Good Shepherd, and 
people interested in it — One of the moving characters was 
Bishop [W. Bertrand] Stevens of the Episcopal Church. And, 
of course, he was connected with the Good Samaritan 
[Hospital of Los Angeles], and as a result of that movement 
to establish the Good Shepherd Hospital, it was finally 
decided that more good would be accomplished by breaking 
the racial barriers in the Good Samaritan Hospital. 
HOPKINS: So, rather than starting a separate black hos- 
pital, it would be better to try to integrate the Good 
Samaritan? 

BEAVERS: That, that's what happened. It might not have 
been the key for the real motive for the acceptance of 
black Americans, but that was the result. When we were 



15 



unable to satisfactorily accomplish the goal of the Good 
Shepherd, to establish the Good Shepherd as a Negro hos- 
pital, subsequently it developed that gradually barriers 
were broken, and some aggressive doctors came along at the 
time and helped to advance the integration program at Good 
Samaritan. Of course, as you have suggested, I think the 
result was that [it] was much better [than] trying to 
establish a separate hospital for the blacks. It was much 
better that they be accepted as part and parcel of the Good 
Samaritan. 

HOPKINS: Dr. Diggs ' s hospital, did that ever get off the 
ground? Or was that the Good Shepherd? 

BEAVERS: No, that was a separate — That was another — They 
actually operated. They were very small. 
HOPKINS: What was the name of that hospital, do you 
recall? 

BEAVERS: I have a faint recollection, it seems it was 
called [Paul Laurence] Dunbar Hospital. I think I ought to 
check that out. I know that Diggs was the — I don't think 
they called it "Diggs Hospital," I think they called it the 
Dunbar. I want to see if I can get some information on 
that, so I can be more accurate about it. But I know it 
operated for several years. 
HOPKINS: But it's not in existence today? 
BEAVERS : No . 



16 



HOPKINS: OK. Was Good Samaritan — What years are we 

talking about, with the blacks beginning to go to Good 

Samaritan? 

BEAVERS: Well, that's something else I'll have to check 

on. 

HOPKINS: All right. No problem. OK, We'll come back to 

that — 

BEAVERS: I'll make a note to myself. 

In connection with that participation in the war activ- 
ities , I also served on the board to seek employment for 
returning veterans. 

HOPKINS: Oh. Now was this a city generated activity, or 
was this a conununity generated activity? 

BEAVERS: Well, this was a — I guess it was generated by 
the federal government. Yes, because I received a commen- 
dation from — One of the a commendations I received from 
the president was for that work in connection with reemploy- 
ment activities. Helping secure jobs for veterans. 
HOPKINS: For all veterans or for black veterans? 
BEAVERS: Well, for all veterans. Of course, mine was — 
Naturally I was particularly concerned with the blacks, but 
in the natural order of things — but the program itself was 
federal, national. 

HOPKINS: Did you work with the Urban League in this 
particular instance? 



17 



BEAVERS: No, this was a separate board, it was by the 
government . 

HOPKINS: How was it that you came to be appointed to work 
on the selective service board, and as an air raid warden? 
BEAVERS: Well, yes, it just naturally developed because 
I — my classification they were trying to use everybody. 
HOPKINS: I see. [laughter] 

Mr. Beavers, before we close this first session of our 
interview, I do want to get your impressions on the so- 
called Great Migration of blacks out of the South during 
the period of World War I. Now I know that the majority of 
blacks went to Chicago, and New York, and elsewhere, but 
some came to Los Angeles. 
BEAVERS: Quite a number. 

HOPKINS: Quite a number. Do you have any impressions of 
that that you can share with us? 
BEAVERS: The impressions of — 

HOPKINS: Did it seem like there was a large influx of 
blacks to Los Angeles? 

BEAVERS: Oh, there was, no question about that. There's 
a — The population of blacks in Los Angeles just — Oh, it 
was very rapid, and as an example: There were very few 
blacks here in the early years when we came, but by 19 — 
Well, I would say, it was — The big influx began after 
World War II. 



18 



TAPE NUMBER: I, SIDE TWO 
APRIL 29, 1982 



BEAVERS: There were only about forty thousand black 

Americans in the whole state of California at the time that 

we were organizing the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance 

Company, and that was in 1924 or '25. And by the end of 

World War II there were, oh, something like two hundred 

fifty thousand black Americans right here in Los Angeles. 

And then of course, you know, now I guess it's over a 

million. 

HOPKINS: Yes. Just shy of it. 

BEAVERS: What? 

HOPKINS: Or, just shy of it, yes. 

BEAVERS: Somewhere around that. 

HOPKINS: Yes. 

BEAVERS: So you can see that during the years there's been 

quite an influx of blacks. Of course, while we're on that, 

there's been quite an influx of whites too. And they 

brought with them those same prejudices that they had down 

South. But fortunately we have had more political freedom 

here, and we've been able to deal with it, as is evidenced 

by the fact that we have a black mayor of Los Angeles, and 

a black superintendent of education. The state, with a 

number of state assemblymen, and even one state senator. 



19 



So it's being — The numbers are being fait. And still we 
don't — We have been, we've had too many who were negligent 
in participation in voting, and that's the big thing we've 
got to correct now, is to get people registered and voting. 
They don't — If we can get anything like our full voting 
strength, why we could have even a larger piece of the pie. 
HOPKINS: The blacks that were migrating from the South to 
Los Angeles during the World War I period, did they seem to 
fit in easily in the Los Angeles environment? 
BEAVERS: Oh, yes. 

HOPKINS: There wasn't major problems with housing? 
BEAVERS: Oh, well, that was felt later as housing became a 
problem, and then we had this situation and it brought 
about the segregation that we have. We really have segreg- 
ation, but it's not imposed by the law. It's imposed by 
the pattern of living. The whites moving out when the 
blacks move in. And whenever the whites feel that there's 
a majority of the people in their area that are black, and 
they're becoming a minority, they don't like to live in a 
situation where they are the minority, so they move out. I 
remember at first, there was a time when there were no 
Negroes west of Central Avenue. Well, they moved over to 
San Pedro. They moved the line over to San Pedro [Street], 
then to Figueroa [Street], then to Vermont [Avenue]. Now, 
let's see, then they got — Then they got to Crenshaw 



20 



[Boulevard]. I remember when, in 1949, when we built the 
Golden State Mutual home office at Western and Adams, some 
of the people complaining about the Golden State moving 
away from the Negroes. And at that time, all this area in 
here was completely — No at that time, this was a golf 
course in this area. And I remember the time when the line 
was in Western Avenue. There were no Negroes living west 
of Western Avenue, and there were even Japanese gardens, 
agriculture, agriculture all in this area. 
HOPKINS: Baldwin Hills, and Leimert Park area. 
BEAVERS: Well, then there was a golf course here, but down 
Vermont on the other side there was agriculture all the way 
almost to the beach. Of course, there's been a real — The 
real estate business really soared in the development of 
all these areas, and the whites moving right in. Of 
course, they can't — You can't get away now — they can't 
live in the ocean. [laughter] And the remarkable thing 
though, is that long before the decision of the [United 
States] Supreme Court striking down the illegal covenant in 
deeds — racial covenant in deeds, which made it impossible 
for Negroes to get clear title — before that decision, our 
company was lending money on homes in white areas, and 
despite the fact that these deeds contained race restric- 
tions. But we knew that the race restrictions were not 
valid, and that some time that they would have to be 



21 



lifted. But in any event, owning the property — They 
couldn't keep you from owning it, they might keep you from 
living in it. And so by virtue of that policy, we helped 
to break the backs of the legal segregation, and bring 
about this law — United States Supreme Court decision 
outlawing the racial restrictions in deeds, and some of the 
property that we made loans on was involved in the de- 
cision. 

HOPKINS: One more question here: Following the war, when 
the industries — When the war-related industry dismantled, 
and we had a lot of black migrants here from the South, was 
it difficult for them to find jobs? 

BEAVERS: Uh-hum. Yes, and as a matter of fact, we had 
what is the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement 
of Colored People], and the Urban League, and some of the 
churches, all of the organizations that were concerned 
about this discrimination brought together in one group 
which was called Allied Defense — Allied Defense — I think 
it's mentioned in my biographical data there. Allied 
Organization Against Discrimination in Defense Industries. 
And we worked together to force the industries to accept 
Negro workers, and the Los Angeles Sentinel and the 
California Eagle , and the churches all worked together on 
that. The fact of the matter is Leon [Harold] Washington 
and the Los Angeles Sentinel were — They headed a movement 



22 



called "Don't shop where you can't work." And they didn't 
have any Negro employees on the streetcars we had-- Before 
the buses we had electric streetcar transportation for the 
local citizens, and the motormen and conductors had to be 
white, and we knocked that out. And then they took on the 
telephone company next. 

And now, it's quite a different day now; of course we 
have the Civil Rights Law of '64, and now it's fashionable 
for them to advertise that they're "Equal Opportunity 
Employers," or affirmative action. All of that has come 
about because of the tremendous working that was done in 
those years when they just didn't think about having blacks 
in any of these places. In banks, in government positions, 
even if they qualified. So our big problem today is to 
urge our people to first register, and vote, and go to 
school, get an education, be prepared to do something. Be 
qualified. There are a lot of jobs, still a lot of jobs 
that we don't have because we don't find enough people 
qualified. That's hard to say, but it's true. And our 
young people, the big message to them should be to study 
and not be satisfied with anything less than the best 
education possible, because the day is fast approaching 
when there is just no opportunity for the menial jobs. I 
think the technology today, so many things are done by 
machine, and computers, and various types of electrical 



23 



equipment, automation. It's taking jobs, but it takes 
people to operate those machines. And computers, and the 
automatic machines, they don't do it by themselves. It 
takes some people to tell the machine what to do, and 
that's where we can be pointing our education. 



24 



TAPE NUMBER: II, SIDE ONE 
MAY 4, 1982 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, you were going to talk something 
about social activities today? 

BEAVERS: Yes, Mr. Hopkins, I wanted to supplement my 
remarks of our previous conference, concerning social 
activities in the early days. Of course, while our social 
activities were rather small comparatively, but at that 
time, we young people received quite a bit of enjoyment at 
the ice cream parlors, and at the motion picture theaters, 
and stage theaters at that time. As an example, we had a 
very nice theater building on Central Avenue near Twenty- 
fourth Street, and we had stage plays and motion pictures. 
But I remember one period in which the Lafayette Players 
were giving programs every week. And that little theater 
would be crowded every session to see and hear those 
players acting the roles of well-known plays, and it was 
very interesting and very entertaining. 

I remember especially too, in the same theater that I 
first saw and heard Lena Home, and in addition to the 
theatergoing, we also had a lot of fun going to baseball 
games, particularly in the winter season when major league 
stars would visit the course in their training sessions, 
and play ball with the Negro stars. Stars from the old 
Negro baseball league, and such characters as Satchel 



25 



Paige, Bullet [Joe] Rogan [Wilbur Rogan ] , Josh[ua] Gibson, 
and Biz [Raleigh] Mackey, Cool Papa [James Thomas] Bell, 
these players representing teams like the Kansas City 
Monarchs and the Home State Braves, the Birmingham Black 
Barons, and the Cleveland Buckeyes, Philadelphia Stars. 
And it was very entertaining and amusing to see these Negro 
stars beat the major league stars. And that was a common 
occurrence, and naturally the Negro community enjoyed 
seeing their black brothers beat the white major league 
teams out here. Then we also had the Pacific Coast Minor 
Leagues , and the Los Angeles team was called the Los 
Angeles Angels, and it came in for its share of beating at 
the hands of the Negro stars. Which was demonstrating at 
the time that there shouldn't be barriers to Negroes 
participating in the major leagues. And, as you know, that 
barrier was finally broken when [Brooklyn Dodger President] 
Branch Rickey hired Jackie Robinson. 

And in addition, we had from time to time the dance- 
halls — dances — sponsored by various groups, collegiate 
groups and other clubs, and that served to provide some 
social activity for the young people in the early days. 
HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, what time period are we talking 
about would you say? 



26 



BEAVERS: Well, we're talking about the time period when, 
say in the 1930's, early 1920's, thirties, forties, 
covering about three decades there. 

HOPKINS: You mentioned the Lafayette Players. Do you know 
anything about them or when they were formed? Who spon- 
sored them? 

BEAVERS: No, I'm sure we could look that up in the Negro 
Yearbook possibly, but it was a traveling group, and it had 
very, very big talent. And of course they had few oppor- 
tunities to use that talent nationwide, and like other 
things in a segregated society, their opportunities were 
limited in the same manner, perhaps, that our athletes were 
limited at the time. 

HOPKINS: Did a group like the Lafayette Players, did they 
play — When they came to Los Angeles did they play ex- 
clusively to a black audience? 

BEAVERS: Well, not exclusively, but most of their oppor- 
tunity for performance was provided by the Negro audiences. 
HOPKINS: OK. All right, so do you want to move on to 
Golden State — I mean to People's Independent? 
BEAVERS: Yes, we can do that now. 
HOPKINS: All right. 

BEAVERS: Now, let's see, where ' s that book? 
HOPKINS: OK, Mr. Beavers, I'd like to turn now to People's 
Independent Church, which I know you had a great part in 



27 



the founding of this church, if I'm not mistaken. Can you 
account for us please, how did People's Independent Church 
come into existence? 

BEAVERS: Yes, I ' d be glad to. The excitement of 1915 
still lingers in my memory. The aroused action of a large 
group of sincere members of First A.M.E. Church to — 
reaction to the abuse of authority by the bishop of tha 
district. This involved the bishop's action in terminating 
the pastorate of the church by the Reverend N[apoleon] P. 
Greggs, who had made a tremendous impact upon the Los 
Angeles community as well as members of the church. He was 
a man of sterling character, outstanding ability. Christian 
zeal, and a most eloquent pulpit orator. He had not served 
a maximum term of pastorate, and the membership had 
petitioned the bishop to return him for another term of 
service. On October 3, 1915, after trying for several 
weeks to have the bishop give some consideration to that 
petition, a body of members congregated in Christian — in 
the Christian Church on East Eighth Street. They declared 
themselves a separate and independent body under the name 
and title of First Independent Church. The group then 
authorized an invitation to be extended to the Reverend N. 
P. Greggs to accept the pastorate of the new church. On 
October 6, 1915, the Reverend Greggs accepted the invita- 
tion, and the church was born, which later became known as 



28 



the People's Independent Church of Christ, and located at 
Eighteenth Street and Paloma [Street] in Los Angeles. I 
had the pleasure and privilege of serving as secretary of 
the organizing group, and was elected to the position of 
church cleric of the permanent organization. At that time, 
I was the youngest member of the official family of the 
church. During a span of twenty-five years, I served in 
many other positions, including choir member, soloist for 
the bass section of the choir, chairman of the board of 
trustees, and numerous important committees. 

Now, I want to ask, "do you want to continue about the 
rest of that? About my wife? 

HOPKINS: Well, I'd like to — Yes, just a couple of ques- 
tions here. Do you know the bishop's name who was involved 
in this? 

BEAVERS: Bishop, what is his name? [tape recorder turned 
off] 

HOPKINS: OK, so the bishop's name — 
BEAVERS: I think his name was Bishop H. B. Parks. 
HOPKINS: I see. And, then Reverend Greggs , his initials 
"N.P. " stand for~ 

BEAVERS: Napoleon P. Greggs. I'm not sure what the "P." 
stood for, but Napoleon was his first name. 
HOPKINS: OK. You mentioned that Reverend Greggs was a 
prominent person in Los Angeles, and he was well thought of 



29 



by the church community. Can you remember any of his 

activities that are outstanding? 

BEAVERS: Yes, he was — He was thirty-second degree mason, 

and he was quite popular in fraternal circles. He was also 

active in the Ministerial Alliance, and frequently appeared 

in other churches. He was invited to other congregations 

to visit and preach. And he took an action in anything 

that was for the betterment of the race and our community. 

He was very helpful to us in the organizing and promoting 

of the insurance business, the life insurance business. 

HOPKINS: Now, People's Independent Church broke away from 

what church? 

BEAVERS: The African Methodist Episcopal Church. 

HOPKINS: And that was located on — ? 

BEAVERS: That was located at Eighth and Towne in Los 

Angeles, the First A.M.E. Church of Los Angeles. 

HOPKINS: So then there was a larger — He was one of many 

bishops then in the A.M.E. Church? Bishop — 

BEAVERS: Parks? 

HOPKINS: Parks. 

BEAVERS: Yes. But he was the bishop of this district at 

the time. 

HOPKINS: Now, when you started People's Independent 

Church, were your mother and father members of People's 

Independent Church? 



30 



BEAVERS: My mother died in 1915, prior to the organization 
of the Independent Church. My father was included, my 
father and my sisters, the rest of the family were in- 
volved. 

HOPKINS: I see. What did your mother die of? 
BEAVERS: Well, paralysis and cancer. 

HOPKINS: Now, Mr. Beavers, I see that you're listed as one 
of the founding members of the People's Independent Church. 
Who were some of the other founders of the church? 
BEAVERS: Well, there was Captain F. H. Crumbly, and Mr. J. 
[H.] Shackleford, a businessman. P. J. Alexander, a 
businessman, and G. W. Whitley, a businessman, and Mrs. 
B[essie] F. Prentice, who was owner of a novelty store, and 
Mr. J. H. Shackleford, who owned a furniture store, and — 
Those are some of the outstanding people who were as- 
sociated with the movement. 

HOPKINS: Can we take a moment here to maybe talk about a 
couple of them. What can you tell me about Mr. 
Shackleford? 

BEAVERS: Mr. Shackleford was quite an active member, and 
he had a good business on Central Avenue. He dealt with 
the furniture and household goods, and later he became an 
outstanding real estate businessman. He was engaged in the 
real estate business, in selling and renting property, and 



31 



he was also later one of the organizing directors of the 
Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company. 

HOPKINS: Well, do you know why he left the furniture busi- 
ness? 

BEAVERS: Well, to make more money, I guess. He thought it 
was a better opportunity, and at that time the real estate 
business was growing and new people coming in, and 
providing housing for people was — offered quite an oppor- 
tunity at the time. And, he saw another need to be filled 
there, and he took advantage of it. In fact, I think he 
made more money in the real estate business then he did in 
the furniture store. Which proved the wisdom of making the 
change. 

HOPKINS: I notice — I've seen pictures of him riding on a 
bicycle with a table on his back. Were there other fur- 
niture stores around at the time? Other black-owned 
furniture stores? 
BEAVERS: Not black -owned. 
HOPKINS: Not black-owned. 

BEAVERS: No. I think his was — His was the only black- 
owned furniture store that I remember. 

HOPKINS: So when he went out of business, where did most 
blacks that you knew buy their furniture? 
BEAVERS: Oh, there was a furniture company by the name 
of — I think it was Gold Furniture Company, and a number of 



32 



stores, and I — Yes, I'm sure the ownership — They were 
Jewish people, and there were several furniture stores 
operated by whites or Jewish people. You know, that's the 
regular — seemed to be the regular order of things. The 
Jewish people and the Caucasians going into the Negro 
community to benefit from their trade. They wanted Negro 
trade. They were not interested in developing any Negroes 
to be their competitors, naturally. [laughter] 
HOPKINS: There's a Mr. Crumbly, Colonel Crumbly — 
BEAVERS: Captain. 
HOPKINS: Captain Crumbly. 

BEAVERS: He was an army captain, and he was a very out- 
standing — He had an outstanding record in the army, and he 
was also very active in the community, very good orator, 
and very persuasive, and very honorable. 
HOPKINS: Mr. Whitley? 

BEAVERS: Whitley was also in the real estate business, and 
he was very active in the church. Very determined sort of 
character, and he and his wife played a very important part 
in the organization. She was a deaconess and very sincere, 
very dedicated. 

HOPKINS: You know, I noticed that there seems to have been 
a lot of blacks who have gone into the real estate business 
in this early period. And I know you mentioned already 
that Mr. Shackleford did so, in order to — He felt it would 



33 



be more profitable. Was it difficult for Negroes to become 
involved in real estate business? 

BEAVERS: No, not especially. It was like other things. 
They had to be — They had to qualify themselves, and get a 
license, and that was a business where your success was 
determined by your own ingenuity, and your activity, being 
able to sell, and to persuade people to buy what you had to 
sell. 

HOPKINS: Yes. 

BEAVERS: And of course, in those days, they knew people 
were coming into the community, and if they didn't have the 
money to buy, why, they had to have some place to live, so 
they'd be interested in renting. So it was an opportunity 
to help provide housing for the influx of the blacks who 
were coming in from other states. Particularly from the 
southern states. 

HOPKINS: Were there any — What would be the major ob- 
stacle, if any, that a black real estate person would face? 
To going into that business? Were there any obvious 
obstacles? 

BEAVERS: Well, in those days, there were no special 
obstacles there, because the whites, the whites were glad 
to use their services when they wanted to move out of a 
Negro district. So there was no particular obstacle there. 



34 



the only thing they had to do was to qualify for a license, 
and then to know how to manage a business and operate. 
HOPKINS: Now, going back then to People's Independent 
Church, I know preliminarily you've mentioned that there 
was a Young People's Lyceum of People's Independent Church. 
Can you tell me something about that? 

BEAVERS: Well, yes. My first wife Willie Mae was very 
active. And she supervised the Young People's Lyceum, in 
fact, she was the organizer of the activity and she super- 
vised for a long time, and it was an outstanding young 
people's organization. It attracted many young people to 
the church without regard for denominational ties. I 
remember that Mr. Leon Whittaker was the first president 
and my sister, Helen Beavers, was the first secretary. 
Whittaker achieved notable distinction as the first of our 
race to serve as deputy district attorney of Los Angeles 
County. And the dramatic department of the Lyceum was 
especially successful and came close to professional 
standards in producing a number of plays that claimed city- 
wide attention. These were presented in the theatrical 
atmosphere, with stage equipment and props, at Gamaut Club, 
an auditorium. It was located on South Hope Street. They 
put on several prominent plays, such as Experience , Cast 
Upon Th e World , A Woman's Honor , Crimson Eyebrows , Belle of 
Barcelona, and some of the participants in these plays 



35 



later achieved distinction in other careers. For example, 

the Honorable Ralph [Johnson] Bunche — now deceased — became, 

became the noted Nobel Peace Prize winner, and assistant 

secretary of the United Nations. Louise Beavers — now 

deceased — was a motion picture actress. Kenneth Spencer, 

who achieved international distinction as a bass soloist, 

and my sister Elmyra — she was Elmyra Beavers at the time- 

— played a starring role in Cast Upon The World . 

HOPKINS: Did you have a part in the, in this dramatic 

role — 

BEAVERS: Oh, yes, I played a little part. I was — In 

fact, I — My own participation was in the leading role in 

the play Experience , which I enjoyed very much. 

HOPKINS: Now, Louise Beavers, is she any relationship to 

you? 

BEAVERS: Yes, she was my cousin. 

HOPKINS: Can you remember offhand any of the roles she had 

in the movies? 

BEAVERS: Well, she was noted in the role of — Shut that 

off a minute. [tape recorder turned off] Imitation of 

Life. 

HOPKINS: Imitation of Life . 

BEAVERS: It was a play that concerned a family — a 

spiritual family where the young woman, she was light of 

color and passed as white, and then this play had a strong 



36 



racial bearing, because it dealt with some of the race 
problems. And the role played by Louise was the — She was 
a servant in the family, but it brought out several life 
situations that were very significant at the time. 
HOPKINS: OK, thank you. This Young People's Lyceum, was 
it a Sunday school, a kind of Sunday school, or — ? 
BEAVERS: No, no. It dealt strictly with the — Well, it 
was a social activity for the church, and development of 
young people. It supplemented school, Sunday school 
activities, and gave the young people something to do 
during their weekdays. 

HOPKINS: Now, when you say young people, what age group 
would we be talking about? 

BEAVERS: Well, generally from kindergarten size on up to 
adulthood. 

HOPKINS: To adulthood. OK. Mr. Beavers, now you cur- 
rently belong to Holman [United] Methodist Church, 
Episcopal Church — 
BEAVERS: Yes. 

HOPKINS: — or Holman Methodist? 
BEAVERS: Holman United Methodist Church. 
HOPKINS: Holman United Methodist Church. Why did you 
leave People's Independent Church? 

BEAVERS: Well, I — My wife and I felt that there was an 
opportunity to serve in a church that was not confined to 



37 



the black community. Of course. Reverend Greggs , the 

original pastor of Independent Church, he passed away in, 

back in 1932. And we saw an opportunity, we thought, to 

get into a church that was — that crossed racial lines, and 

in keeping with our philosophy to get into the mainstream, 

we thought that activity in the United Methodist Church 

perhaps would offer more opportunity to promote that 

philosophy of getting into the mainstream. After getting 

into the — After joining Holman Methodist Church, I did 

have the opportunity of serving on the board for the All 

Nations Foundation, and the Goodwill Industries, all 

organizations that cut across racial lines. And, it was-- 

It has been a nice experience. 

HOPKINS: About — Do you remember what year that you joined 

Holman ' s? 

BEAVERS: Oh, I think it was '57. You can verify that, I 

think it appears in my biographical data. 

HOPKINS: OK. OK, now, so then from roughly 1915 to 1957, 

you were a member of People's Independent Church. 

BEAVERS: Yes. 

HOPKINS: Can you — Were there any significant changes in 

People's Independent Church over that time that are worth 

noting? 

BEAVERS: Well, of course, the church has moved from it's 

old location on Eighteenth and Paloma, it's now on West 



38 



Boulevard near Fifty-fourth Street, I believe. And they 
have a new pastor. They've had several pastors since 
Reverend Greggs has passed. And it's doing very well I 
think, but I have no regrets for having moved to the United 
Methodist Church. 

HOPKINS: I guess my question is generated from the fact 
that there were so many prominent blacks during this early 
period that seemed to be members of People's Independent, 
and now looking at the church from what I know of it, which 
isn't a whole lot, there still are some prominent in- 
dividuals, but not as many as there were in the earlier 
period. 

BEAVERS: Well, as conditions change and you have new 
leadership, you see, there's quite a difference in the Los 
Angeles periods since — in all those years, you have more 
churches, and more able ministers. We have Dr. [Thomas] 
Kilgore [Jr.] at the Second Baptist Church, we have so many 
outstanding ministers in other churches, and of course. Dr. 
James [Morris] Lawson of our church, he's an outstanding 
minister, and there's Bishop [Hartford H. ] Brookins of the 
A.M.E. Church too, he's outstanding. He's been a pastor — 
I think they have a pastor by the name of [Reverend Cecil] 
Murray, but the churches like other activities have grown 
and there are so many more now, and there's so many more 



39 



outstanding people. So I think that would account for the 
difference that you observe. 



40 



TAPE NUMBER: III, SIDE ONE 
MAY 11, 1982 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, last time we talked about the 
founding of People's Independent Church, and today I'd like 
to talk about another institution in which you were in- 
volved in the founding of, and that is the Golden State 
Mutual Life Insurance Company. Can you tell me how you 
came to be involved in Golden State? 

BEAVERS: Yes, Mr. Hopkins, I'll be glad to review that as 
much as I can recollect. You know, that's been a long, 
long time. 
HOPKINS: Uh-hum. 

BEAVERS: In the early spring of 1922, a young man by the 
name of Calwell Jones — he was an agent for the American 
Mutual Benefit Association [of Texas], that was a fraternal 
organization — and he came to my home and tried to sell me 
an insurance policy in that organization. I asked him many 
questions that dealt with the association, its record, sta- 
bility, management, and finally its ability to pay. Jones 
talked a little about the insurance benefits, but most of 
his sales pitch focused on race pride, and he didn't 
satisfactorily answer my other questions. He requested 
that I give him an opportunity to bring his superintendent 
to further bolster his presentation, and I agreed. 



41 



Later he returned with the — Mr. Norman 0[ liver] 
Houston. This was my first meeting with Norman, and we 
engaged in a lengthy discussion, and Houston then arranged 
to have me meet Mr. William [H.] Nickerson, Jr. Mr. 
Nickerson had come to California in 1921. He was from 
Houston, Texas, and was the secretary and general manager 
for the American Mutual Benefit Association which had its 
origin and home office in Houston. I shall never forget 
the meeting with Mr. Nickerson, he had such a magnetic 
personality and an abundance of enthusiasm, and that 
enthusiasm was contagious. After talking with Mr. 
Nickerson, I not only paid the premium for an insurance 
policy, but I became an agent for the Association. And 
that was the way that I first became involved. 

Now that was a fraternal insurance organization, and I 
started to work for them on a part-time basis, and I began 
an intensive study of life insurance and salesmanship, and 
Norman and Mr. Nickerson shared with me their experience, 
and some special courses on the subject. Mr. Nickerson was 
an excellent teacher, and he was truly dedicated to the 
insurance business. Oh, in about a year, with the help of 
others, he had built, we had built a sizeable debit. That 
is, Houston and I. And I sold a building maintenance in 
which I was engaged, and decided to make life insurance my 
career. I accepted the philosophy of life-long learning 



42 



and started an educational program to take special training 
and college courses, not for degrees or college credits, 
but rather for practical use in business, and for helping 
to find solutions to the various problems that confronted 
me daily. 

Norman and I, with a small staff of agents, continued 
building the American Mutual debit, but ever looking 
forward to the time when we could realize Mr. Nickerson's 
dream, to build a real life insurance company. At that 
time we felt there was a great need for a life insurance 
company for our people in particular, because they were 
denied so many benefits from the operations of the life 
insurance business by other companies. In other words, 
they could get only substandard policies, and they couldn't 
get any employment, no loans on their property. In other 
words, they couldn't enjoy the full benefits of the 
business that their premiums helped to build. Mr. 
Nickerson was quite sensitive about this, and felt the 
need. And he had a dream of building a big company that 
would serve those needs, and give opportunities to our 
people to have the full benefits of their life insurance 
premiums. So Norman and I shared that dream, and we helped 
to, we were glad to help make it become a reality. 

Mr. Nickerson's associates in the business were in 
Texas, and apparently they didn't share his dream to build 



43 



a larger organization, and as a result they refused to 
renew the license that was necessary in California for the 
year 1924 to '25. As a result, we decided to build a 
company in California. And Mr. Nickerson was very happy to 
have us join him in this endeavor, and I recall the major, 
major crisis that faced us when they decided to change the 
law during the time we were organizing. Of course, in 
order to get going with the organization of the company, it 
was necessary to find a law under which we could operate, a 
law that didn't require such large expenditures as was 
necessary for an old line legal reserve company. 

I recall that I went with Mr. Nickerson to the offices 
of some lawyers who were insurance specialists, and they 
outlined what was necessary, and during the course of the 
interview indicated what their fees would be for the 
preliminary work, and having us to get started with such an 
adventure. And, of course, their preliminary fee was 
fifteen hundred dollars before we had anything in the way 
of a license to operate. 

HOPKINS: What company was that? Do you remember offhand? 
The lawyers, I don't know if you remember offhand? 
BEAVERS: No, they were life insurance specialists. I 
don't recall their names, it was a group of them. I don't 
recall their names. However, that incident brought out the 
determination in William Nickerson, Jr. We left the 



44 



lawyers' office, and he said to me, "Beavers, where can we 
get some law books?" And I took him to the law bookstore 
that I was familiar with, and there he purchased a copy of 
the Civil Code of California. In other words, Mr. 
Nickerson would become his own lawyer. [laughter] And as 
a result, he searched that law book, and he found Chapter 
Four — It was called Chapter Four at that time, under which 
the law in Chapter Four provided that you could organize a 
guarantee fund insurance company, and the requirements were 
a fifteen [thousand] dollar guarantee fund to be placed 
with the state treasurer, and five hundred applications 
with the premiums paid, and of course, you had to have in 
addition to that some money to operate on. In other words, 
it involved about an outlay of twenty-five thousand dollars 
and five hundred members. 

Well now, during the time that we organized we inciden- 
tally choose that method of organizing, reasoning that that 
was a starter and once we were successful with that part of 
the organization we could convert into an old line legal 
reserve . 

HOPKINS: So at this point, you were organizing a guarantee 
life insurance. 

BEAVERS: The Golden State Guarantee Fund Insurance 
Company, we called it. And the policies had to carry an 
assessment clause, and that's an interesting point too. 



45 



Although we carried that assessment clause in the early 
policies, at the same time we maintained the full legal 
reserves just as though it had been a legal reserve com- 
pany. Having in mind that when we finally converted, the 
reserves would have accummulated and there would be no 
problem in transferring it into a larger company. So, we 
went to work on that basis. And Mr. Nickerson, he was the 
president and general manager, and was taking care of the 
actuarial part of it. He succeeded in getting an actuary 
to help him. His name was John H. Upton. He was a retired 
actuary, and there were no black actuaries at that time. 
And this man was retired and quite a help to us. He was 
broad in his concept, and was very helpful in helping us to 
get our original organization in order. 

During that period, Mr. Nickerson, as I said, took 
charge of the general management and the actuarial part of 
it. Norman Houston was the secretary and he took charge of 
the drive to sell "certificates of contribution," we called 
them. 

HOPKINS: Was that like stock? 

BEAVERS: That was similiar to stock, but it lacked the 
quality and guarantee of stock. It was a contribution, and 
payable only when the company had surplus sufficient to pay 
it. So that it was to — Some people would call it a 
gamble. At least it took a lot of faith to put out a 



46 



thousand dollars for something like that, in a nonexistent 
company, hoping it would succeed and you would get your 
money back, so you could get interest on it. 
HOPKINS: Can you remember some of the people who bought 
these first certificates? 

BEAVERS: Oh, yes. There was, of course, naturally we had 
to buy them. We were organizing the firm, and then there 
was Dr. [Henry H. ] Towles , Dr. H. H. Towles , a prominent 
physician. Mr. S[imon] P. Johnson, who was an undertaker, 
in the mortuary business. And there was a man by the name 
of Ed Banks, Edward Banks. Another doctor, Wilbur C. 
Gordon, a Hartley Jones. And Jones was connected with the 
Liberty Savings and Loan Association. See, we — Houston 
and I had a lot of friends. Houston had a lot of friends 
in Northern California where he was born, and he was also a 
legionnaire, and I was very active in the Independent 
Church, and I had a lot of friends there, including the 
pastor, the Reverend N. P. Greggs , who was very popular, 
and a great orator, a man who was very much interested in 
business success as well as in religion. And those were 
some of the people. 

Then up in Northern California, we had another under- 
taker by the name of Luther Hudson. Of course, you might 
say that it was natural for undertakers to have some 
interest in the insurance business, because that's another 



47 



way to guarantee they get money when the policyholder dies, 
If he has insurance, why, they would be benefited by their 
help in having them insured. But these men were of high 
caliber, and they were concerned about building more 
business owned and controlled by black Americans. Oh, 
there is another prominent man, I should mention J. H. 
Shackleford. He was in the furniture business, and later 
became a real estate dealer. So they were quite a number 
of people. 

HOPKINS: What would be a rough estimate? I'm sorry, I 
didn't mean to interrupt, but what would be a rough es- 
timate of the number of certificates you sold? 
BEAVERS: Well — 

HOPKINS: In this early — In the beginning? 
BEAVERS: — we sold the certificates. We counted them in 
amounts of money, so we had to raise — The certificates 
furnished the major portion of the money that we raised. 
Of course, that was supplemented by the premiums that 
people paid for the policies. And while we were in the 
process of organization, they changed that law to — which 
almost doubled the requirements. Instead of five hundred 
members, you had to have a thousand. Instead of fifteen 
hundred dollars, you had to have — I mean fifteen thousand 
dollars, you had to have twenty-five thousand. And that 
law was — The new law was to go in effect in July of 1925, 



48 



and we actually started the charter membership drive in the 
early part of 1925, because in 1924 we were busy getting 
the organization formed. In the latter part of 1924, we 
were busy planning and getting ready for the drive, and 
then the charter membership drive actually started in 1925. 
When the news came out that they had changed this law, we 
were more determined then, and that helped us as we went to 
the people, to show them that some effort was being made to 
block the success of this company, 

HOPKINS: You mean these laws were designed — do you think — 
specifically to — 

BEAVERS: Well, it seemed to us that our company was the 
only one in the process of organizing that particular kind, 
and it was the first time that any company had used these 
certificates of contribution to raise money. And there was 
no doubt in our mind that it was specifically aimed at 
stopping or blocking our success. We had one, only one 
representative in the state assembly then, whose name was 
Fred [Frederick Madison] Roberts. He was the first black 
man elected to the state assembly in California. And he 
was quite a help to us. 

Now, if I think I can get back to our main subject 
here. We had some interesting sidelights on the way to 
raising this money. I remember that in the first part of 
July, in 1925, the insurance examiner came and inspected 



49 



our books , and checked on the progress being made in 
raising the fund. Then the day before we were to have the 
final inspection, we needed about eighteen hundred dollars 
more to really get just the minimum. We gathered at the 
mortuary owned by S. P. Johnson, and we had a little 
meeting — the directors — it reminded me something of a 
church in raising money. The pastor needs just a certain 
amount to round out the collection, and he makes a frantic 
call for additional contributions. At that meeting though, 
in about twenty minutes we raised that extra eighteen 
hundred dollars, and it was put in the bank the next day. 
And the new law I referred to was going into effect on July 
23, 1925, and we received a telegram from the insurance 
commissioner at noon on that day, informing us that we had 
met the requirements and would receive the license to 
operate. That was a very happy and glorious time. 

At that time we were in a little office — well, the 
building was owned by Dr. Towles . It was a little building 
at the corner of Clanton [Street] and Central Avenue, and 
that was between Newton Street and Fifteenth [Street] — that 
street I don't think is there anymore. But we had a one- 
room office up there, and we stayed there just long enough 
to get — to find a place to accommodate our business. And 
that was the second office that we had. It was at 3512 
South Central Avenue, that was just below Jefferson. Right 



50 



at the intersection of Jefferson and Central Avenue. And 
there we remained until we built our first new home office 
building . 

That building was built by L. [Louis] M. Blodgett. He 
was a black American contractor, and we had that building 
on Central Avenue between Forty-first and Forty-third 
Street — or between Forty-first and Forty-second. The 
numbers of the streets later were changed, but that was at 
4111, was the address. It was a two-story building, and we 
occupied the second floor for the business, and we rented 
out the three stores. One to a beauty parlor, one to a 
barber shop, let's see, no, I guess it was two stores. Two 
storerooms. And they rented out originally to a beauty 
shop, and then a barber shop. We remained there until, 
well, there's quite a bit of history that was made right at 
that address. [tape recorder turned off] 

By the end of 1925, the company paid its first death 
claim, and this established a precedent of prompt service. 
We made a special point of making a payment of the claim 
within twenty-five minutes after proofs of death were 
filed. The full settlement was made to the widow of a 
charter member by the name of T. A. Torrance, one of the 
first to express his faith in Golden State Mutual by 
signing a charter membership application. 



51 



In December, the company dispatched one of its 
talented young agents to Oakland to organize a branch 
operation in that Northern California community. Edgar J. 
Johnson, one of Golden State's first agents, was the man 
chosen to be manager — first branch manager for the company. 
He eventually attained the title of president of the 
company. 

The tiny office in which the company had its beginning 
had to be abandoned after seventy-nine days. Growth had 
reached the point where it was unsuitable. And the new 
storefront office was secured, and the company grew during 
the next fourteen months to an organization of fifty-four 
employees, with assets of $25,346. Income in 1926 reached 
$60,793. Now between 1926 and 1928, Golden State extended 
services to Pasadena, Bakersfield, San Diego, Fresno, El 
Centre, and Sacramento. In Los Angeles a new home office 
building was erected, and that was the one I just referred 
to. 

HOPKINS: At 4112? 
BEAVERS: At 4111. 
HOPKINS: At 4111. 

BEAVERS: By the end of '29, Golden State's assets stood at 
$73,033. Its annual income was $188,847, and its employee 
force 126. 



52 



While economic conditions in America ebbed. Golden 
State Mutual grew. In 1950 there was war again, and some 
thirty-four thousand American lives were lost on Korean 
battlefields before an uneasy peace was restored. In the 
1950s there was the launching of the first man-made satel- 
lite by the Soviet Union, and the first atomic-powered 
submarine by the United States, and also the discovery of 
vaccine against polio by Dr. Jonas [Edward] Salk. The 
United States elected Dwight [David] Eisenhower president, 
a British queen was crowned, and a new African nation of 
Ghana came into existence. The outlawing of segregation in 
public schools, and the Little Rock [Arkansas] incident 
became a symbol of defiance of that ruling. And a Georgia 
preacher named Martin Luther King [Jr.] led a bus boycott 
in Montgomery, Alabama, in the struggle by black people for 
economic, social, and political freedom. 

For Golden State Mutual, the decade meant more ex- 
pansion, and a new kind of identification for its represen- 
tatives. Oregon, Washington, and Arizona joined Cali- 
fornia, Texas, and Illinois as Golden State's service 
states. The company broadened its services to include 
mortgage cancellation insurance and group insurance. -^ 

I don't know how far you want me to go in discussing 
this, but that gives you some idea as to the beginnings. 



53 



and you might have some questions to raise before we 
proceed with the other progress. 

HOPKINS: That was very good. Just a few questions if we 
can start back in the beginning. Now, you mentioned that 
you studied life insurance in part with Mr. Nickerson. 
What kind of formal course work did you have in insurance 
business? Or how was your training? 

BEAVERS: Well, I took courses in the UCLA Extension, and 
some special instruction from a professor at the University 
of Southern California. For example, I was the vice- 
president and director of agencies, and in the early days 
we served in multiple positions. For instance, Mr. 
Nickerson was president and general manager. Mr. Houston 
was secretary and treasurer, and he looked after the 
investments as well as the secretarial work. I was 
director — not only director of the agency, but I was claim 
adjuster, I was the public relations director. In other 
words, we had to do — Whatever had to be done, we had to do 
it. 

HOPKINS: I see. 

BEAVERS: So during that period, at first, I extended my 
knowledge of economics, I had a special economics course, 
had a special course on insurance salesmanship, a course on 
life insurance, and I had a course in advertising, a course 
in public speaking, a course in special law — in commercial 



54 



law. And those are examples. I took those courses, and 
naturally that helped. 

Also, I think it well to point out at this time, and 
this was my philosophy from the very beginning, was our 
philosophy, we wanted to build a business — One of the 
motivating factors in building Golden State Mutual was not 
only to provide opportunities for better life insurance to 
our people, but also opportunities for employment, oppor- 
tunities for mortgage loans, these are the other benefits 
that they did not receive at that time from other com- 
panies. So I took the position then, knowing that it would 
take time to build the kind of corporation we had in mind, 
and that we were in fact trying to provide for the younger 
generation coming on. And that was why I was not per- 
sonally concerned about getting diplomas or degrees, I was 
concerned about getting the information so that I could use 
it to apply where I needed it, and when I needed it. I 
knew that when the company grew and became large enough, 
that there would be opportunities for the younger people, 
and that's what I was interested in. I got as much as I 
could to use where I needed it, and when it was important, 
but I was very much interested in encouraging the younger 
people to go on and get their degrees, M.B.A.'s, and all 
the education they could get, because I could see that 



55 



there would be a need for it. And they would have places 
to use it. At that time when we were coming along — 



56 



TAPE NUMBER: III, SIDE TWO 
MAY 11, 1982 

BEAVERS : OK? 
HOPKINS: Yes. 

BEAVERS: So, I've seen a number of cases in the business 
world, and particularly in life insurance, where we were 
specializing, where the old hands stayed on so long, that 
there was no opportunity for younger people to come in and 
to perpetuate the business. We in Golden State Mutual, we 
had the philosophy of building not only the business but 
building people and giving them opportunities. And now 
that's being paid off, because we have so many people well- 
trained. Our chairman of the board, and chief executive of 
the company now, not only has his M.B.A. but he has a 
degree in actuarial science. He has his C.L.U., Chartered 
Life Underwriter. He has the F.L.M.I., that's a degree 
from the Life Office Management Association [Fellow of the 
Life Management Institute]. And there's another story 
behind that, which I'll touch on later, how we — how our 
people have helped to break the barriers of discrimination 
in the life insurance industry, so that they not only got 
in, we not only got the company in as a member, but our 
people have served in various official capacities in those 
trade associations. And at the time we were organizing 



57 



they were not accepted in any of the trade associations. 
We managed to, through our activities in the community and 
in the State of California, work through some friends who — 
In the life insurance business here, for example there was 
Leslie [J.] Hooper, who was an actuary for Pacific Mutual 
Life Insurance Company. He and I served in the 1949 Grand 
Jury together. He was also helpful to us in the life 
insurance business, because — And there's, in all the activ- 
ities in the community and the city, and the state, Mr. 
Houston and I were very active in these various organi- 
zations, and naturally we met people from these other 
companies, leading companies here, like Pacific Mutual, the 
Occidental Life Insurance Company, and the Prudential, and 
meeting those people, and working through them, that we 
helped to break the barriers to race in the trade industry 
groups. 

Our company, we belonged to Life Advertiser's Assoc- 
iation. We belonged to the Life Office Management Assoc- 
iation, we have more, I'll be giving you that too. We have 
more members who — More of our employees and officers who 
have that distinction, the F, L.M.I,, having completed all 
the courses in office management and insurance. And it's a 
fellowship degree, F.L.M.I., and — 
HOPKINS: Now, what does that stand for again, F.L.M.I.? 



58 



BEAVERS: Fellow, Life Insurance Institute. Let's see, I 
have these. See, a number of the officers there that have 
that F. L.M.I, after their names. We made a special point 
of encouraging our employees and our officers to take those 
courses, and you'll notice the number of F. L.M.I, and 
C.L.U.'s, and we have retired officers who receive those 
— that recognition. 

Well, getting back to the point, the philosophy of 
building our youth, and giving them opportunities, because 
take me now, I'm 90 years old, and I knew that I wouldn't 
be the beneficiary of all these opportunities, so if I 
could do something to help make the way for others, I'm 
happy I made a contribution. And that's the philosophy. 
And see, a number of our companies failed because the old 
hands stay on too long, and they die, and go on, and 
there's nobody left to carry on the business, see. Now, if 
they carry — If they had left, they are not trained and not 
able to keep up with the change in time. Business now is a 
whole lot different now than it was in 1925. So — 
HOPKINS: Were there competing life insurance companies — 
black — was there competition from other black insurance 
companies in Los Angeles when you started Golden State? 
BEAVERS: No. 

HOPKINS: What about this group from Texas? Did they just 
disband then? Or did they send other agents from Houston? 



59 



BEAVERS: Well, no, they finally disbanded. 



60 



TAPE NUMBER: IV, SIDE ONE 
JUNE 1, 19 82 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, as you recall, last time we met you 
gave us an excellent sketch on the growth of Golden State 
Mutual Life Insurance Company. We have some questions we'd 
like to ask you, to clarify some points as well as to maybe 
initiate some new ideas on the growth of this company. Can 
you trace for us, please, your role in the growth and 
development of Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company? 
BEAVERS: Thank you, Mr. Hopkins. That's a big order, but 
I'll do the best I can. Of course, I think we've already 
covered the fact that I was one of the cofounders, and Mr. 
Norman Houston was a cofounder, but the founder was William 
Nickerson, Jr., who originally came to California from 
Houston, Texas, and was the man who first conceived the 
idea of a life insurance company on the West Coast that 
would be owned and controlled by black Americans. Mr. 
Nickerson believed very strongly that it was important that 
some insurance company be organized here that would provide 
not only the insurance benefits, but the other benefits for 
our people that derived from the operations of the insur- 
ance companies. Of course at that time, while there were 
major companies — major life insurance companies — operating 
here, at the time they did not look kindly upon Negro- 
Americans as risks. Some thought that they were not 



61 



insurable, others thought that they were poor risks, and 
there was little opportunity for black Americans to get the 
full benefit of life insurance here or anywhere else. But 
we were convinced, as Mr. Houston and I shared the opinion 
and the concerns of William Nickerson, Jr., the founder, 
that our people should have the opportunity to enjoy all of 
the benefits of the operations of a life insurance company. 
That is to say not only the best insurance protection, but 
also the benefit of jobs, and mortgage money to buy homes, 
and all of those benefits that accrue to members of a life 
insurance company. And that was not the case at the time 
that we started organizing the Golden State. 

In fact, one of the motivating factors — the greatest 
motivating factor — was to assure that we would have a 
company that would be available and would provide for our 
people all the benefits that accrue from its operation. So 
at the time of organization — I think we covered the fact 
that Mr. Nickerson took over the responsibility of the 
overall management of the project, and Mr. Houston had the 
responsibility for raising the fifteen thousand dollars 
needed for deposit with the state, and I had the respon- 
sibility for getting the five hundred members necessary for 
qualification. Now, in all of our activities, we worked 
together, this unit: Nickerson, Houston, and Beavers. And 
each of us had multiresponsibilities during the 



62 



organization of the company and after the organization of 
the company. For example, after we succeeded in qualifying 
for a license, and that was on July 23, 1925, we received 
the notice from the insurance commissioner that we had suc- 
ceeded in qualifying for our first license, and that was 
issued to the Golden State Guarantee Fund Insurance 
Company. From that time on, we worked together, and we — 
For example, I had the responsibility as vice-president of 
the company and director of the agencies. Also I was the 
claim adjuster, adjusting the claims, and I was also the 
public relations man, so we had — You see we had multi- 
duties to perform, and it was a small company, and we had 
to grow to the point where we would have individuals 
heading various departments, and for the time being during 
the organization period, and during the early years of the 
operations, each of us had numerous duties. 

During that period, of course, the fact that I was 
active in the People's Independent Church of Christ was 
quite an asset to us, because in addition to having the 
support of a dynamic pastor, the Reverend N. P. Greggs , we 
also had the support of the membership of the church. And 
that was quite an asset to me, since I had to get these 
five hundred members, and naturally many of them came from 
that church, and from other churches. I was active in 
church work, and of course, my activities were not confined 



63 



to the People's Independent Church. And it, by the way, 
was what its name implied, an independent church, and it 
didn't restrict itself to denominational ties, but all 
denominations were recognized and were encouraged. Through 
the activities of that church many families were brought 
together who prior to that time — One was a Methodist, 
another a Baptist, and oh, some other denomination, but the 
Independent Church furnished an opportunity for the family 
unit to be brought together as one, so naturally the 
Independent Church grew very rapidly, and it was quite an 
asset to me to have that entree into the — that particular 
church. I served as clerk or secretary, and I was on the 
trustee board. I was at one time chairman of the trustee 
board and also I was an active member of the choir. In 
fact, I was the soloist for the bass section of the choir. 
It was through those kind of activities that I was able to 
make a valuable contribution to the organizing and the 
operating of the Golden State. 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, about how many people — How many 
members of Golden State came from People's Independent 
Church? 

BEAVERS: Oh, I have no idea. 
HOPKINS: Guess. 
BEAVERS: I couldn't guess. 



64 



HOPKINS: I was wondering, did it contribute more members 
than say, some other church? Like Second Baptist, or 
A.M.E. Church? 

BEAVERS: Well, that's — During those — During that par- 
ticular period I'm quite sure they did, because it had a 
large membership and I was very active in that particular 
church, and — but we had the cooperation and support of 
practically all of the churches in California. And we're 
always happy to give due credit to all of the churches. 
They welcomed us from time to time to come and speak to 
their congregations, and it was just — We just felt at home 
in any of the churches, and they were always giving us 
welcome and cooperation and support. 

HOPKINS: Did the general public that you spoke to, did 
they seem receptive? Did they seem to believe in your 
company? Or were they looking at it in a skeptical 
fashion? 

BEAVERS: Well, it was not only the people in the church, 
but I'd say there was a certain amount of skepticism to 
begin with on the part of the public and naturally they — 
When you say the public, that includes the church. People, 
they're human, they're people, and until they have some- 
thing tangible to — by which to judge business or an individ- 
ual, their skepticism is somewhat justified. So there was 
skepticism. There were doubting Thomases who said it 



65 



couldn't be done. And there were a lot of people who 
sought to block our path and prevent it from becoming a 
reality. I think I told you about the incident during the 
organization period, in which time the state laws were 
changed. That was an effort to prevent our success in 
organizing and meeting the requirements of the state, and 
we're — We may not be able to prove that, but it was very 
obvious to us, because nobody had thought to — thought about 
this particular chapter under which we were organizing 
until that time, and there had been no thought of changing 
the law until we started our drive for membership to 
organize under that particular guarantee fund law. 
HOPKINS: Along these lines, as we talked of last time, you 
said that Congressman Fred Roberts aided your company — 
BEAVERS: Not congressman, assemblyman. 

HOPKINS: Excuse me. Assemblyman is correct. Aided your 
company. What was his role? 

BEAVERS: Well, Fred Roberts, he was the first member of 
our race to serve in the state assembly in California. He 
had quite a long record, and he worked with us. He was 
also head of a newspaper, I believe it was called the New 
Age . He gave his support and he was very useful in keeping 
us informed as to the legislative activities, and anything 
that involved our operations, why, we always could rely 
upon him to give us advanced information. And he also 



66 



spearheaded the adoption of a law that amended the insur- 
ance code under which we were operating to provide for 
insuring children and juveniles. So Fred Roberts was very 
helpful in many ways. 

HOPKINS: OK. Can we continue, then, with tracing your 
role in the company? Now, in 1925 — around 1925, you were 
instrumental in bringing some five hundred members, with 
the help of others I'm sure, too, but where do we go from 
there in terms of your contribution? 

BEAVERS: Well, we — As the company grew, we were able to 
divide up some of these positions. Of course, as the 
volume of business grew, why naturally I wouldn't be able 
to fill all those positions, vice-president, and director 
of agencies, and claim adjuster, and public relations 
officer, and so there were openings. Of course, it was 
interesting that — I think, as an example, my secretary, 
the young woman who served me for sixteen years as secre- 
tary, was able to become our first public relations direc- 
tor, Mrs. Verna Hickman. She was Verna Stratton at the 
time. Of course, our public relations, or rather my public 
relations responsibility, was taken over by her, and then 
later we had — We would promote one of our staff to the 
office of claims adjuster, Mr. Berke [N. ] Hunigan was our 
first claims, claims adjustor, that is the first after me. 
I gave those duties — Those duties went over to him, and 



67 



then later we had a superintendent of agencies that took — 
First we had an assistant agency — assistant director of 
agencies, and then finally a superintendent of agencies, 
and finally another agency director. And then I was — 
After Mr. Niclcerson passed in 1925, pardon me, 1945, Mr. 
Nickerson passed in 1945, we had to reorganize, and we 
followed the same script of — in the reorganization taking 
titles that would identify the functions as much as pos- 
sible, and I became chairman of the board and continued to 
direct the agencies. 

Now, Mr. Houston became — who was secretary/treasurer 
— he became president, and we brought up to secretary a Mr. 
Edgar J. Johnson, who had worked his way up from agent. He 
was one of the first agents in the charter membership 
drive. I recall that he came to us from UCLA, and had — He 
worked in the charter membership drive and waited until the 
company qualified to get his compensation, and he did a 
splendid job as agent and manager of agencies. So he was 
brought up to an executive level, and was secretary after 
Mr. Nickerson had passed. And that made the new trio of 
Houston, Beavers, and Johnson, in the early days. 

I don't know — Well, to continue my role, I, in 
addition to serving as an officer of the company, I was 
very active — I continued my activities in the community. 
I was active with the NAACP, the Urban League, and all of 



68 



those organizations named in my biographical data. I was 

on the 1949 Grand Jury. That Grand Jury was noted for its 

activity in indicting the chief of police [Clemence B. 

Horrall]*, and notorious Brenda Allen who was quite a — Had 

quite an organization around — She was known as head of the 

prostitutes in Hollywood. And we also indicted Mick — 

Mickey — 

HOPKINS: Mickey Cohen? 

BEAVERS: — Mickey Cohen. 

HOPKINS: Yes. 

BEAVERS: We had a busy year that year, that 19 49 Grand 

Jury. And then, of course, I was also a part of the 

organization of the Grand Jurors Association [of Los 

Angeles County] which still continues. 

HOPKINS: What does that — What's its responsibility? Or 

what's the nature of that organization? 

BEAVERS: As the members of the former Grand Juries, they 

formed an association, it's called the Los Angeles Grand 

Jurors Association, and it holds meetings, and has been 

very active working with other — with the Grand Juries 

that — the current Grand Juries each year. They take an 

active interest in trying to promote those principles and 

laws that are dictated by — from time to time — by the 



* The charges against Horrall were later dismissed at a 
preliminary hearing. 



69 



results of the various services performed by the Grand 

Juries. And I've served on several mayor's commissions. 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, I want to get back to those, get to 

those commissions, but I do want to carry on with the 

insurance, but you brought up now the indictment against 

the police chief. Can we go into that a bit? What was his 

name? 

BEAVERS: Well, that grew out of the connections of the 

police department with organized crime. This Mickey Cohen 

outfit — There was an incident that came up that was 

investigated and found to have definite ties with the 

police department. And that was the thing that lead to the 

indictment of the chief. 

HOPKINS: How were you regarded on the Grand Jury? Were 

you the only black on the Grand Jury at that time? 

BEAVERS: Oh, yes. I was the only black. 

HOPKINS: How was your opinion regarded? 

BEAVERS: Well, I guess it was regarded very highly, I was 

the one that made the — that wrote the first draft of the 

indictment for the — of the chief. But I think it was very 

highly. 

HOPKINS: How were you appointed to the Grand Jury? 

BEAVERS: Oh, the appointments are by the Superior Court 

judges make recommendations, and then after a given time 

those recommendations — It's really by lot. They were put 



70 



into — They have some system of drawing, drawing their 
names. And my name was entered by a judge. Judge Scott, 
Judge Robert Scott, and he's deceased now. But through the 
procedure of drafting I was one of the nineteen that went 
on. 

HOPKINS: Did you know Judge Scott personally? 
BEAVERS: Yes. 

HOPKINS: Can you tell us about the nature of that relation- 
ship? 

BEAVERS: The relationship with the judge? Oh, no close, 
no special close relationship. I just knew him, he knew of 
my work on some of the committees, mayor's committees, and 
in the Urban League, and that's — I guess that's how he 
happened to think of me as being one for the Grand Jury. 
HOPKINS: We do want to spend some time on some of the 
other city-wide committees that you were on, but getting 
back to the insurance, I'd like to ask you, the National 
Negro Insurance — 
BEAVERS: Association? 

HOPKINS: — Association. [Now known as the National 
Insurance Association.] Can you tell me something about 
that, and if you played a role in that association? 
BEAVERS: Yes, our company played a role in that. We felt 
obligated to maintain membership in that organization, and 
to help as far as we could in inspiring and developing 



71 



the — and promoting the work of the organization. And it 
was — The work of the organization was to encourage and 
support the insurance business among black Americans. I 
think you read M. S. Stuart's book [ An Economic Detour . 
1940] on the history of that organization. 
HOPKINS: Yes. 

BEAVERS: That tells you— In that book that Stuart brought 
out the services of the organization and the importance of 
the business, and it's relationship to the — what he called 
an "economic detour" in America. Then there was — Well, 
you're interested in that particular organization. 
HOPKINS: Were there any other organizations that were 
formed that Golden State belonged to as a company? 
BEAVERS: Well, I'm glad you raised that question, because 
we made it our business to break down the racial barriers 
in the trade associations generally. For example, at the 
time we organized there were no black Americans who were 
members of any of the major trade associations in America. 
So we made a point of breaking those barriers, not just for 
the sake of being a member of the white association, but 
for the purpose of getting the benefit of the training, the 
methods, systems, and procedures used by the major com- 
panies. And at the same time, making our contribution as a 
member of such trade associations. 



72 



So let's start with the Los Angeles Chamber of 
Commerce. We became members of the Los Angeles Chamber of 
Commerce. We had good associations with the officers of 
the white insurance companies operating in California, such 
as, particularly, the Pacific Mutual, and the Prudential, 
and Occidental Life, those companies especially because 
they had headquarters here in Los Angeles. Prudential had 
its southwest division headquarters here in Los Angeles. 
And through those contacts we were able to get into such 
organizations as the Life Advertisers Association, the 
[American] Life Insurance Convention, it was called, 
American Life Convention, the American Life and Health 
Insurance Association, the Life Office Management 
Association. Those associations in particular — First, I 
recall, we were able to get material from the Life 
Insurance Association and we were accepted as auditors. We 
could go to the meeting, but we couldn't get membership. 
But when we — We took advantage of the opportunities that 
were offered, and from that we were able to finally break 
the barrier and get recognized. Now we belong to all of 
the important life insurance trade associations. Now the 
Life Advertisers Association, in that organization we won 
our public relation — probably won many awards for excel- 
lence in our advertising. If you're interested, I might be 
able to get the number of awards that we won. 



73 



HOPKINS: Sure. 

BEAVERS: Then our first— Mrs. Hickman and I attended the 
Life Advertisers Convention, and finally the present 
director of public relations, Mr. William [E. ] Pajaud. 
Pajaud has served as chairman of the western division of 
that association. And we've had other officers, too, in 
positions. In fact, in the American Life Convention, Mr. 
Norman 0. Houston was on their board, and later Mr. Ivan 
[J.] Houston, the present chief executive of the company, 
served as — on their board — He served on the Life Office 
Management [Association] board, he was chairman of the Life 
Office Management board, entertained that board out here in 
California. 

So we broke the barriers racially. And we had the 
help of officers of the companies operating in Los Angeles, 
the white companies operating in Los Angeles which I named 
before. They had the result — the help — of those officers 
in breaking these barriers. And it was through our con- 
tacts with them, in activities here in Los Angeles, that 
helped us get this wedge to break these other barriers. 
HOPKINS: Did companies like Prudential and others that you 
mentioned, did they insure blacks before Golden State came 
into being? 

BEAVERS: Well, they insured them, but they didn't explore 
the — In other words, they didn't give them the same type 



74 



of policies, and they didn't employ them in the numbers 
that they do now, prior to the operations of the Golden 
State Mutual, because, no question about it, whereas we had 
the field all to ourselves, you might say, at first, and we 
had no competition from — little or no competition from 
them, from the other white companies, until a number of 
things happened. Until we had set a pattern that showed 
that the black Americans, in the right economic climate, 
would be good risks. That was demonstrated not only by our 
operation, but by the operation of other big black American 
companies, for example the North Carolina Mutual [Life 
Insurance Company]. I'm sure that the success of the 
larger Negro companies opened the eyes of the larger white 
companies, and shook them up a bit as to what they were 
missing. Now, we have to — We have a job meeting the 
competition of them, not only for the business, but for 
employees. And we welcome that, because we — Our race 
needs all of these other benefits that accrue from the 
operation of the life insurance business. And that was our 
major motivation at the start, and now we — It is some 
source of satisfaction to see the new picture that has 
evolved now, where we have our offices and employees so 
recognized nationwide. 

HOPKINS: I know at one point, you mentioned that the 
Golden State has also hired whites in the corporation, 



75 



where at one time they hadn't. Can you discuss the racial 
policies of Golden State Mutual? 

BEAVERS: Well, the — You understand that there are laws 
now against discrimination. And, of course, we have to 
live by that law, same as the whites. Of course, the 
whites have — They are so indoctrinated with the segregated 
pattern that we — 



76 



TAPE NUMBER: IV, SIDE TWO 
JUNE 1, 1982 

BEAVERS: They're so indoctrinated with the segregated 
pattern that we don't have so much difficulty in employing 
our own people. But we do have difficulty in getting 
qualified [people]. So we, as a result, we have other 
races, quite a number of other races, represented in our 
employment. And more and more that's happening because of 
the unemployment picture, and because of the inability for 
the — Well, I — Maybe inability is not the correct word, 
but there is a problem in getting really qualified person- 
nel. That goes with black and white. And it's because of, 
particularly within our own group, the failure of people to 
take advantage of the opportunities to get business educa- 
tion. That has caused us to sponsor a new nonprofit 
corporation called the Golden State Minority Foundation. 
HOPKINS: Could you talk about that a bit? I didn't know 
about this. 

BEAVERS: Well, that — Shut it off a minute. [tape recor- 
der turned off] 

The Golden State Minority Foundation is — was organized 
for the purpose of encouraging students, and helping 
students to become — to graduate in business administration, 
to get their business education. That's — And it's been 



77 



operating for seven years, and we — Through that foundation 
we have made possible grants to help students get higher 
education, and to get student loans. We helped the 
[United] Negro College Fund, we helped USC, and UCLA, and 
have a number of graduates who have been helped and who 
have been able to get their business education through the 
efforts of our foundation. 

I'll give you a copy of the update of this organiza- 
tion. They're having a dinner and program at the Century 
Plaza Hotel on the evening of June 9. 
HOPKINS: OK. 

BEAVERS: And we give scholarships, and student aid to 
students, and that's done for the purpose of meeting this 
situation and trying to help to get more qualified people 
ready for jobs in the industry. 

HOPKINS: Can you remember the first date — the first time 
that a white person was employed by Golden State? 
BEAVERS: No, I can't, because it goes back a number of 
years. We had — We had a white woman, Goodham, a good 
white clerk and secretary up in the northern — in the 
northern branches, and then we've had several — And we do 
have several members of other races employed now in the 
home office. Did you ever go through the home office of 
our company? 
HOPKINS: Right, I did. 



78 



BEAVERS: Did you observe some other — members of other 

races working in there? 

HOPKINS: Yes, I did. 

BEAVERS: You know first hand, then, that this is true. 

HOPKINS: Exactly. 

BEAVERS: And, of course, to tell you the truth, we've been 

somewhat embarrassed by the fact that in this Minority 

Foundation, we've had — We haven't had the number of male 

students that we thought we would have, that would qualify 

for these honors. 

Let me see, where are we now? 
HOPKINS: OK, well a — 

BEAVERS: We were talking about the competitiveness in the 
employment field, and what we are doing about it. 
HOPKINS: And relations with other companies. I wanted to 
turn now, if I might, to Mr. Nickerson, and could you tell 
me something — give me kind of a biographical sketch of his 
life? Share with us what you recall that may be interest- 
ing and significant to us? 

BEAVERS: Well now, yes. Mr. Nickerson was — He was born 
in Texas, let's see, he was born January 26, 1879. He was 
the first child of William and Emma Pool Nickerson. He was 
born in San Jacinto County, Texas, and his parentage, of 
course, was American black. It was not the worst time for 
an American of black parentage to be born, neither was it 



79 



best. Two decades earlier, to be born black in America was 
most likely to be born one of 3.5 million slaves in thir- 
teen southern states, in border states. To be born black 
in America in 1879 was to be born free, but into a wilder- 
ness of social and economic repression. And there was 
growing national indifference to the problem of the free- 
dom — whom freedom had somehow failed to endow with money, 
property, education, or skills. 

Mr. Nickerson's father was a slave, and was a cotton 
and corn farmer. Both his mother and father were off- 
springs of slave owners, as well as slaves. And Mr. 
Nickerson, he was a farmer, and then of course he became — 
He prepared and became a teacher and he was — He taught 
school prior to the time that he went into the life insur- 
ance business. He was attracted to the life insurance 
business, and he was working for a white company, the 
American National [Insurance Company], I believe it was. I 
can verify the name later. It was through the unfairness 
and discrimination that was used by that company that 
inspired him to try and organize a company in Texas, and 
that was the — his reasons for organizing the American 
Mutual Benefit Association. He and two other men, I was 
trying to think of their names, I knew them, I have met 
them and I knew them well. I can't think of the names 
right now, my memory isn't that good. 



80 



HOPKINS: Well, OK, we can come back to that. 
BEAVERS: But anyway, he and two other men organized this 
American Mutual Benefit Association as a result of discrim- 
ination that Niclcerson had encountered as an insurance 
agent for the American National. I believe I told you 
earlier about the American Mutual Benefit Association, a 
fraternal organization. 
HOPKINS: Uh-hum. 

BEAVERS: And he was representing that organization when he 
came to California. He got a license to operate that 
fraternal insurance, and did so for, well, about three 
years prior to the organization of the Golden State. 
HOPKINS: Can you tell us — We talked earlier about a trip 
he took from Texas to California, it was an interesting 
sideline. Would you share that with us? 

BEAVERS: Oh, yes. That was quite interesting. In 1921, 
in June of 1921, he and his wife and eight children jour- 
neyed from Houston to Los Angeles, and to show the cost in 
the mechanism, and the problems that result from segrega- 
tion, his trip to Los Angeles, and how he made the trip, is 
a good example of the, not only cost, but the silliness of 
racial discrimination, and these are the facts: 

Segregation had such a — Racial segregation had such a 
hold on the people, on the white people, that in order for 
Mr. Nickerson and his family, wife and eight children, to 



81 



come to Los Angeles in a first-class compartment of the 
Southern Pacific Railway, the superintendent of the system 
in Houston wrote a letter. And they had a sufficient 
number of copies to furnish all of the stationmasters and 
the personnel at every stop between Houston and Los 
Angeles, advising them that this Negro family would be 
occupying a stateroom, and that they were to be confined to 
that stateroom at all times, and that they were to be given 
service — their meals and all — in their stateroom. And all 
the way from between Houston and Los Angeles, and of course 
at each stop, the stationmaster and his personnel who had 
the responsibility for handling the traffic had to be 
informed, and they had a copy of this letter to put them on 
the alert, to know that there was a Negro family in the — in 
this compartment — in the compartment on this train. I was 
really struck by that when I first read it, and noted how 
difficult it was, and what lengths people would go to to 
see to it that segregation was maintained. 

HOPKINS: Can you give us an account of Norman 0. Houston? 
BEAVERS: Now, Norman Houston, he — He was a native son. He 
was born in California, in — I think it was San Jose. And 
Houston was — He lived, when I first visited him up there, 
he lived with his mother and stepfather in Fruitvale, 
California. That was a little suburb of Oakland. Houston 
was — He was a war veteran and he attended school at the 



82 



University of California [Berkeley], public elementary 

school in Oakland, Fruitvale, but mostly north Oakland. 

And then he went to the University of California, and — But 

he didn't graduate, but he, I think — Yeah, I think he was 

called to service and went to — He was in the Second World 

War , and — 

HOPKINS: Second World War, or First World War? 

BEAVERS: Let's see, the Second World War — no, the First 

World War, yeah, the First World War, the Second World War 

we were in operation. Were we? Yeah. So that was in the 

forties, wasn't it? 

HOPKINS: The Second World War, right. 

BEAVERS: Yes, thank you. That was the First World War. 

His son [Ivan J. Houston] was in the Second World War. Mr. 

Houston, a veteran of the First World War, that's right. 

And he was — Let me see, what did he — He had an officer's 

position in that war, such as it was. Let's see if I can 

find that. That ought to be in the information here. 

[tape recorder turned off] 

Mr. Houston was born in San Jose, and he lived there 
until he was three-and-a-half, and his father got a better 
job at a new hotel in Portland, Oregon, and they planned to 
make the trip by boat. Later, in Portland, the Houstons 
found what Lillian [Houston Harris] would describe as many 
colored people, but a town that was rather wild. And the 



83 



harsh Pacific Northwest winters did not agree with Norman 
and caused him to have asthma. And after two years, the 
family returned from the Bay Area, moving to Oakland. By 
this time Norman was of school age. The family's economic 
condition had improved, and they bought their first home in 
north Oakland, near what was to become the boundary line 
between Oakland and Berkeley. 

Norman entered Derek School. The family situation did 
not remain stable, the house did not remain stable, how- 
ever. When Norman was twelve his parents were divorced, 
and Lillian sold the house and moved with her son to 
Fruitvale, then an unincorporated area of Alameda County 
and later annexed to Oakland. Oakland was a railroad 
terminal, known all over the country as the place where the 
trains all stopped. A year after her divorce Lillian met 
and married a railroad man, James Ervin Harris. She called 
the next set of years the happiest period of her life, 
marred only by a tragic accident in which her husband's 
left foot was severed as he alighted from a slow-moving 
train in a railroad terminal. Although eventually able to 
return to work, James never completely recovered, and the 
loss of his foot subsequently contributed to his death. 
Now, that was his stepfather. 

An ingenious woman, Lillian Houston Harris kept her 
teenage vow to herself never to do laundry work for a 



84 



living, and she had fulfilled her desire for a richer life. 
She took part in amateur theater, theatricals ia San 
Francisco, wrote for the Oakland Outlook , a weekly news- 
paper, and raised canaries, pigeons, and Irish setters 
commercially. And like Mr. Nickerson's mother she exerted 
a strong influence on her son, and she was quite an in- 
fluence on Norman, and throughout her lifetime he was her 
pride and she didn't mind telling anybody about it. 

She was quite helpful to us during the organization 
and operation of the company in the early days. I remember 
■going up there on business with the company, and staying at 
her house, the hotels were not so available then. She was 
very helpful to us. Although her husband then, Harris, he 
was just as — He couldn't have done more — No father could 
have done more to encourage a child than he did to en- 
courage Norman. 

I have told you about Norman going to college up 
there. He worked as a switchboard operator in an apartment 
house. And his first job, that was his first job, an 
attendant left behind several volumes of Alexander Hamilton 
Institute books, and he was quite a reader, he liked to 
read, and he had a correspondence school business course. 
And he graduated from high school, he entered the 
University of California at Berkeley, and he majored in 
business. Of course, he wanted to be in business. There 



85 



were jobs which offered security and perhaps minor promo- 
tions, but they didn't satisfy his ambitions. It only 
whetted his appetites for a meaningful part. 

While attending the University of California at 
Berkeley he was in good company. Earl Warren, who became 
governor of the state and Chief Justice of the [United 
States] Supreme Court, was at the same school. And then in 
1917, Norman — In 1917, let's see — Oh, yes. He decided to 
go to New York to finish his education, and that was when 
he had to go to war instead. So he served in the war from 
1914 to 1917. And I was trying to find where — [tape recor- 
der turned off] 

Colonel Young [ Lt . Colonel Charles Young], while he 
was — 

HOPKINS: He met who? 

BEAVERS: — while he was an inpatient at — I was trying to 
find what hospital that was. It was one of the military 
hospitals. And — 

HOPKINS: You said he met somebody? 

BEAVERS: Colonel Young. And Young gave him permission to 
use his name, and Houston — He was commissioned in 1917, 
and he went overseas with the headquarters unit of the 
317th ammunition train, part of the historic Ninety-second 
Infantry, Buffalo Division. In France, Houston was made 
regimental personnel adjunct and became involved with the 



86 



army payroll. His unit witnessed the — Witnessed the 
reduction of St. Mihiel, followed by the successful [Meuse] 
Argonne Offensive which ended with the signing of the 
Armistice-November 11th. 

Well, by November 20th the walled city of Metz was 
reached and American and French troops entered the city. 
But I guess you're interested now in getting back to the — 
After that military service he came home, and was — Let's 
see, he landed a job as clerk in the brokerage firm of 
E. S. and H. H. Potter and Sons, later called The Loyalty 
Group, it's a major fire and casualty insurance group. 
HOPKINS: Was that — in what city? 
BEAVERS: That was in San Francisco. 
HOPKINS: I see. 

BEAVERS: Although this was Norman Houston's third experi- 
ence with insurance he had not yet considered it the area 
in which his dreams of becoming a successful businessman 
might be realized. But one day on his way home from work, 
he ran into an acquaintance who offered him a job in Los 
Angeles selling insurance to waiters and cooks at the 
railroad commissary. Then he moved — This caused him to 
move to Los Angeles. And that's what he was doing at the 
time, he was working at that job as a life insurance 
salesman selling insurance to waiters and cooks at the 



87 



railroad commissary. That's where he was when he met Mr. 
Nickerson. 

HOPKINS: Oh, I see. 

BEAVERS: I mean, he was in that job, doing that job when 
he met Mr. Nickerson. 

HOPKINS: What type of person was Mr. Houston? How would 
you describe him? 

BEAVERS: Well, he was — He was — You're talking about his 
personality? 
HOPKINS: Yes, right. 

BEAVERS: Oh, he was very affable person, very friendly, 
aggressive, and that's what I liked about him. In fact, he 
and I worked together for all those years, for Golden 
State, and we were good friends, and throughout our associ- 
ations, and until his death. 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, we've been at it a while, but in 
order to kind of round out the Golden State story, I'd like 
to ask you at least one more question. 
BEAVERS: All right. 

HOPKINS: This is concerning the growth of the company 
itself. There must have been some highlights in the growth 
of the company, or say through key periods, that the 
company had to deal with. For example, the Depression, how 
did the company fare up under the Depression? 



88 



BEAVERS: Well, believe it or not, we did very well during 
the Depression. We — Despite the Depression, we continued 
to grow. I could-- Lets see, if I could— '32— It was in 
1929 to 1932, three years. It'd be interesting to mark out 
those years and see just what we did. You want me to do 
that? 

HOPKINS: Yes, if you wouldn't mind at some point, yes. 
BEAVERS: I guess it'll have to be next time, then. 
HOPKINS: OK, yes, sure. 



89 



TAPE NUMBER: V, SIDE ONE 
JUNE 12, 1982 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, we'd like to go back, if we may, in 
concluding our discussion on Golden State Mutual Life 
Insurance Company, and ask you if you can clarify and maybe 
add to the role of the church in Golden State Mutual Life 
Insurance Company. 

BEAVERS: Thank you, Mr. Hopkins, I ' d be glad to, I recall 
that no mention was made of Mr. Nickerson's church member- 
ship. As I recall, he was also a member of the People's 
Independent Church of Christ. He was not originally a 
member, but he became a member during the process — the time 
when we were organizing. Later he served on the board of 
trustees of the Independent Church. Of course, he too was 
quite impressed with the leadership of the Reverend N. P. 
Greggs , who was the pastor of the Independent Church at 
that time. Also, my other associate and cofounder, Norman 
0. Houston, was a member of the First A.M.E. Church, and he 
was also very active in the Ben Bowie Post of the American 
Legion. He helped to organize that post. So, in addition 
to that, we had on our board one of the leading members of 
the Second Baptist Church, Mr. S. P. Johnson, and he was 
quite active in the Second Baptist Church. Also Dr. H. H. 
Towles, in whose building our first office was located. 



90 



Dr. Towles was also a member of the First A.M.E. Church, 
and you can see from that that the churches were well 
represented officially. But in addition to that, we from 
time to time made it a point to visit all of the churches, 
all the churches that were owned by members of our race in 
California. And we felt at home in any of the church 
buildings. Now, I think that would clarify that particular 
point about our church affiliation and the support we 
received from churches. 

HOPKINS: OK. As I recall, we left off our discussion with 
Golden State — We've talked a great deal about the leader- 
ship in the church, we've talked about the internal struc- 
ture of the church, and we left off last time talking about 
some external impacts on the insurance company. We left 
off with the Depression. Can you relate to us information 
on the impact that the Depression might have had on Golden 
State Mutual? 

BEAVERS: Well, you're speaking of the Depression, I guess, 
in the 1930s? 



HOPKINS 
BEAVERS 
HOPKINS 
BEAVERS 



Yes. The Great Depression. 

About the 1930s? 

Yes. 

Well, the — I can't say that the Depression did 
not bother us at all. We did feel the Depression, nat- 
urally, but we were not — We would not let the Depression 



91 



stop us. I think to give you some idea of how we felt 
about the Depression, Golden State Mutual greeted the new 
decade with its first dividend payment to life policy 
owners in 1931. The Golden State Guarantee Fund Insurance 
Company became the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance 
Company, and the firm continued to expand. Assets during 
this ten year span rose from $73,000 to $437,714 and income 
from $188,847 to $487,262. In July of 1938 the Golden 
State entered the state of Illinois, establishing an office 
in Chicago for its first venture across California bound- 
aries. 

And it was in 1938 also that the company initiated its 
drive to convert its legal status from an assessment 
company to an old line legal reserve insurer. To do so 
meant the company had to deposit $250,000 as a legal 
reserve with the state treasurer. Now to raise such an 
amount of money, the company directors decided to use the 
same method which had proved successful in the organizing 
effort, and the sale of certificates of advancement. This 
project, which began in the closing months of 1938, was 
still in progress at the end of the decade. And in an era 
characterized by mass unemployment, business failures, and 
overtures to war. Golden State Mutual Life Insurance 
Company proved equal to the challenge of adversity despite 
its youth. So in 1941 the company had accumulated enough. 



92 



through the sale of the certificates of advancement, to 
make the required deposit that would make it eligible to be 
reclassified as a mutual legal reserve insurer. So that on 
January 2, 1942, the conversion was complete. Golden State 
Mutual was licensed as an old line legal reserve insurer. 

I might emphasize at this point that the payment of 
interest and the payment of the original certificates gave 
the people more confidence, and we were able to raise the 
funds just mentioned, $250,000, much easier than it was to 
raise the original amount. 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, you had massive migration of blacks 
coming from the South to work in the war industries during 
the 1940s. Did that aid or have any impact on the insur- 
ance company at all? 

BEAVERS: Well, it had some impact. Naturally the black 
population in California increased, and with that increase 
came more opportunities to serve. For example, it was 
during that period that we organized what was called the 
organization Allied — Let's see, let me get this correct 
there. 

HOPKINS: Sure. 

BEAVERS: The Allied Organization Against Discrimination In 
National Defense. Now this group spearheaded a fight which 
opened the doors of war industries to Negro workers on the 
Pacific Coast. As a result, naturally that helped our 



93 



business, and it helped the new people coming in to 
California. 

HOPKINS: OK. Did Golden State Mutual have any relations 
— business relations — with other minority businesses? 
Maybe Japanese or Mexican businesses that may have existed 
in Los Angeles over time? 

BEAVERS: No. At that time there were no important organiz- 
ations among the other minorities, and we were so busy 
trying to take care of the discrimination against the 
blacks that we hadn't reached the point that we have now, 
where there are so many other minority groups in the state. 
We were focusing on the plight of the blacks at that time. 
HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, in continuing this discussion with 
Golden State Mutual, before we get back to our chronology 
and talk about the 1950s and 1960s, and then bring the 
company up to date, I'd like to ask you about this question 
of expansion. Now you've already mentioned that in July of 
1938 Golden State expanded into Chicago, Illinois. Can you 
tell me something about how the expansion process works, or 
worked for Golden State? 

BEAVERS: Well, to begin with every state has its own 
insurance laws. You have to know — if you don't know, you 
have to find out — the requirements of such state [laws], 
and before you make an application you get that infor- 
mation, and then you determine whether or not you are 



94 



willing to expand your operations in that particular state. 
In the life insurance business there are two major ways of 
operating: One is through a general agency method, and the 
other, is of course, with the office management. 
HOPKINS: Can you explain the difference between those two? 
BEAVERS: Well, in the — With a general agent, you select a 
general agent, and he has to be bonded or meet your require- 
ments to represent your company in that state, or in 
whatever city you choose to operate. And the general agent 
is responsible for — All of the expenses in your contract 
are with the general agent, and it sets forth the require- 
ments that he must meet, and the compensation, and so on. 
But on the branch office system you set up an office, and 
you employ a manager and the assistant managers and the 
agents, and you are responsible — The company is respon- 
sible for the general operations. And it's, as you can see 
and perhaps understand, it's quite more expensive to use 
the branch office method than it is to use the general 
agency method, particularly when you are confined to a 
certain — to the business of a certain segment of the 
population, which brings out the evils of the state of the 
racial segregated system. No other race is subjected to 
that kind of restriction except the Negro race. Now being 
realistic about it, whereas we don't have any segregation, 
or advocate segregation of the races, we have to be 



95 



realistic about it, and recognize that because of this evil 

custom there's — we are not going to be able — we do not have 

the same access to securing business from the other racial 

groups, as, say, the whites have. But we take all that 

into consideration to begin with and we knock down the 

barriers where we can, and we — It's a never-ending battle 

to fight against this racial segregation, because it 

doesn't help us. 

HOPKINS: Why did Golden State select Chicago, and why in 

1938? 

BEAVERS: There's a very simple reason, because Chicago is 

a central point, and there's a tremendous population of 

Negroes in Illinois, and so Chicago being a traffic center, 

that was a natural for us we thought, and we — The records 

show that we were justified in taking that position, and we 

built up a nice business in Chicago. 

HOPKINS: Why 1938? Why that year as opposed to earlier or 

later? 

BEAVERS: Well, that was the year that we were prepared, 

and the kind of business that we were doing at the time was 

acceptable in Illinois, and so there was no other reason. 

Of course, it's significant that it was only a few years 

after that we qualified as a legal reserve insurer, and we 

could really qualify to go into any state for operation. 

But the Chicago — The Illinois laws were such that it 



96 



accommodated our purposes at that time. Now since that 
time we have entered other states. Well, we've entered 
Texas, and Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and several other 
states. In fact, our company's licensed now to do business 
in — in addition to Illinois — Arizona, Oregon, and 
Washington, we're licensed in Indiana, Michigan, and Texas, 
Oklahoma, Minnesota, Georgia, District of Columbia, 
Louisiana, Nevada, Florida, Maryland, Kentucky, Virginia, 
Missouri, Tennessee, Kansas, and Mississippi. 
HOPKINS: Was there any state that refused you a license to 
operate in that state? 

BEAVERS: No, we haven't been refused. We have refused 
ourselves to go into states where the law and the popula- 
tion didn't justify it. 

HOPKINS: Can you give me an example of that? 
BEAVERS: Well no, I don't have any example in mind, but I 
just have in mind some states where the population — the 
Negro population — isn't very large, and there 'd be no 
particular point in going into a state like that. 
HOPKINS: You mentioned, Mr. Beavers, that New York was — 
You consider it personally to be perhaps the most difficult 
state to get a license, or to set up an office in. Could 
you elaborate on that at all? 

BEAVERS: Well, that's my personal opinion. I think that 
their — Well, their laws are something like California, but 



97 



I think they're a little more rigid than California. 

Really, the opportunities are there, and no doubt sometime 

we'll probably be operating in New York, but not yet. 

[ laughter] 

HOPKINS: Just a couple more questions again on this 

question of expansion. When we talked about opening up an 

office in Chicago in 1938, were there any other black 

insurance companies in Illinois at the time? 

BEAVERS: Oh, yes. 

HOPKINS: Oh, there were? 

BEAVERS: Oh, yes, there were a number of black companies 

operating there. 

HOPKINS: Insurance companies? 

BEAVERS: Insurance companies. 

HOPKINS: Right. 

BEAVERS: Atlanta Life [Insurance Company], the, oh. 

Metropolitan [Insurance Company] of Chicago, the — what's 

the name of that company — Universal Life [Insurance 

Company] . Those are the ones that come to mind now. There 

were several, and of course, they had a number of burial 

insurance companies in Chicago. 

HOPKINS: How did these insurance companies receive you? 

Did they look at you as a threat, or did they just look at 

you as — Well, I'll let you answer that. How did they 

perceive you? 



98 



BEAVERS: The other black companies? 
HOPKINS: Yes. 

BEAVERS: Oh, well, we belonged to the National Insurance 
Association, and we have a very good relationship with the 
other officials, and we all recognize that our main competi- 
tion is coming from the other racial — white-operated 
companies . 
HOPKINS: I see. 

BEAVERS: That's where the real competition comes from. 
HOPKINS: Well then, through this association, do you ask 
each other, do you get a consensus as to whether you can 
move into a state? 
BEAVERS: Oh, no, no. 

HOPKINS: You decide based on your own policy, and then 
move forward. 

BEAVERS: Yes, yes. There's nothing — In the National 
Insurance Association we have a very good relationship, in 
fact we have our conventions every year, and we have 
committees that work through the year. We have a director, 
and his job is to help in the promotion of the Negro 
insurance business. And of course, as time goes on we've 
had the problem of facing up to the importance of having 
our operations meet the test of other companies. In other 
words, we try to develop in our people the attitude of 
building a good life insurance company, not just a good 



99 



black insurance company but a good life insurance company, 
as measured by the best standards in the industry. We have 
made it a point to break down as far as we could all of the 
racial barriers, because when we first organized, why, no 
Negro companies belonged to these leading trade associa- 
tions in the life insurance business. We have succeeded in 
breaking down all of the racial barriers to membership in 
the trade associations. We are not only members of, but we 
freely participate, and our officers have accepted respon- 
sibilities and worked with the trade associations for the 
betterment of the life insurance business. As an example, 
our chairman and executive officer Ivan Houston has been on 
the board, and has been chairman of the leading life 
insurance trade association, the Life Office Management 
Association. And that's the one that sets the tone, and 
aids in development and training of life insurance workers. 
As you'll notice behind the names of the officers the term 
F.L.M.I., that's Fellow of the Life Management Institute, 
and C.L.U., Chartered Life Underwriter, those distinctions- 
-and you'll notice those letters following the names of 
several officers of our company. 

HOPKINS: You gave some documented evidence that during the 
Depression years the company continued to grow. It's 
amazing to me that people were interested in buying insur- 
ance during the 1930s. An example is, you expanded in 



100 



Chicago in 1938. Were they as receptive to buying insur- 
ance as they had been before? Could you note a difference 
then? 

BEAVERS: Well — 
HOPKINS: As you recall — 

BEAVERS: — that Depression is a relative time. You see, 
in times of depressions when there's a lot of unemployment, 
why, you don't go around advertising the unemployment and 
seeking business from the unemployed. You focus attention 
on the employed. 
HOPKINS: OK. [laughter] 

BEAVERS: If you focus attention on the unemployed and try 
to — and the agent uses all his time trying to insure 
somebody who is not working, why you can see pretty soon he 
won't be working because he won't be earning anything. 
That's a little comical way of putting it, but it's very 
factual when you get out to it. If you get into the right 
frame of mind, you can — There's always a large group of 
people working, there has to be to take care of the needs 
of society. And of course, it's up to a businessman to try 
to find ways of contacting those who are employed, who are 
earning, and have them recognize that the need for insuring 
so that their future and their dependents' future will be 
taken care of. So, that's — I guess that's the reason. 



101 



And we in Golden State — Well, it just happens that 
during that particular time, during the forties, we accumul- 
ated — it was during the forties that we actually finished 
the drive to become a Negro reserve insurer. After the 
conversion of the company to a legal reserve status, why 
then, we really were prepared to grow. So in spite of the 
war years, and their restrictions. Golden State's growth 
during the forties was tremendous. At the beginning of the 
decade. Golden State's assets stood at $527,800, its annual 
income at $496,395, and the company had 220 employees, 
whose annual salaries added up to $211,736. But now, by 
the end of 1949, the company's assets had grown to 
$4,270,205, and its yearly income $3,496,663, and there 
were 642 employees who were receiving a total of $1,750,223 
in salaries and commissions. A fitting climax to an 
eventful decade was the dedication in 1949 of Golden State 
Mutual 's new home office building, at the corner of Western 
Avenue and Adams Boulevard in Los Angeles. It stands today 
as a symbol of black enterprise and of loyal service to 
many thousands. 

HOPKINS: As long as we've started — We've talked about the 
forties, and in trying to conclude our discussion on Golden 
State, can you carry this through today? What did the 
1950s hold for Golden State? 



102 



BEAVERS: Well, for Golden State the decade meant more 
expansion and a real — and a new kind of identification of 
its representatives. In 1954, Golden State Mutual ' s board 
of directors formally declared the "Golden Rule" as the 
company's business philosophy. As a symbolic reminder of 
this principle, the company began the practice of presen- 
ting to each new employee a marble enscribed with the 
phrase, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto 
you." In 1957, also, the company adopted the new graphic 
symbol and coined a new nickname for its field represen- 
tatives. The Golden State agent thus became "The Man With 
the Golden Pen," a name symbolizing not only the great 
importance of the Golden State field underwriter services 
to families, but also the professional nature of the 
special skills for which his training has prepared him. 
The fifties meant more for GSM than physical expansion, and 
added services and bigger financial figures. It meant a 
new high in technical proficiency and professional and 
ethical standards. More and more, company employees were 
increasing their technical competence through professional 
insurance education courses being provided by such organiza- 
tions as Life Underwriters Training Council, Life Office 
Management Association Institute, and the Health Insurance 
Association of America. 



103 



In an age of stepped up technology it takes not only 
competent people but modern systems and up-to-date machin- 
ery, too, to keep Golden State services efficient. In 
1959, therefore. Golden State Mutual introduced into its 
home office operations an electronic data processing 
system, to help Golden State people perform their services 
with the speed and accuracy expected of — expected by Golden 
State policy owners. A celebrated milestone in the com- 
pany's development was recorded in 1956 when insurance in 
force reached a hundred million [dollars]. Golden State 
closed out this ten-year period with $133,281,913 of 
insurance in force, and assets amounting to $16,442,783. 
Golden State people were providing services in six states 
through some sixty branch offices and general agencies. 
HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, if you recall, of course, during the 
1960s and 1970s there was an increased awareness in this 
concept of blackness, and black is beautiful, and buy 
black, and be black, and that sort of attitude. Do you 
recall whether that made a positive impact or a negative 
impact upon Golden State, just from your personal recol- 
lections? 

BEAVERS: Well, we have been reluctant to use, or to 
confine ourselves to those terms, and they might be all 
right for slogans, but in a day when there's such mass 
unemployment, and people have to measure up to high 



104 



standards to — and have some skills to sell to get jobs, we 
think it's more important to deal with the matter of 
training and being prepared to serve. That's where the 
beauty comes in. If you are well trained, and can render a 
service that other people need, then you have a better 
chance of fitting into the skilled operations of today. 

We have — We have to face up to the problem of getting 
the best training possible, and it was that idea that 
caused us to endorse, or to sponsor, what we call the 
Golden State Minority Foundation, which gives scholarships 
to students in college, and encourages them to engage in 
business careers, or prepare for service in business 
careers. That organization through the past seven years 
has done a remarkable job in focusing attention to educa- 
tion, and getting the help of businesses and educational 
institutes — institutions — and promoting this program of 
preparing for more efficiency in business. 

So to get back to your question, we think it better to 
focus on education and being prepared to do something and 
do it well, than to kid ourselves along with these slogans, 
black is beautiful and all. Black can be beautiful, black 
can be very ugly too, as witnessed by the crime picture in 
our communities. 
HOPKINS: Yes. 



105 



BEAVERS: So, we've got to be practical and realists, and 
try to do the best we can to keep pushing for black 
Americans' citizenship and recognition of the contributions 
that our people make to the state and the nation. We can't 
put ourselves off, and just paint ourselves into a corner 
and be black. We've got to get into this mainstream and 
swim with the rest of the people. 

HOPKINS: So then the company did not exploit that slogan 
of "black is beautiful," and say, "OK, black is beautiful, 
now, all blacks come and buy Golden State Life Insurance 
Company." They didn't exploit that? 

BEAVERS: No, that's right. And we don't exploit that, and 
we hope that our people will wake up and understand the 
need for getting prepared to do a job. 

HOPKINS: OK. In concluding this discussion on Golden 
State, which I might mention has been an excellent and 
detailed and very rewarding experience to hear, I'd like to 
ask you: Can you tell me the state of the company as it 
stands today in 1980, '81? 

BEAVERS: Well, by going with this training program and 
getting new leadership for the company, I feel very proud 
of our young leadership. I think Ivan Houston, C.L.U., 
F.L.M.I., our chairman and chief executive officer, and 
Larkin Teasley, the president — Larkin Teasley is F.S.A. 



106 



[Fellow of the Society of Actuaries], and he's president 
and chief operating officer. And then we have — * 



* Due to technical problems. Side Two of Tape V was not 
transcribable. The continuation of the discussion of 
Golden State Mutual Life Insurance will be found on Tape 
IX, Side I. 



107 



TAPE NUMBER: VI, SIDE ONE 
JUNE 22, 1982 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, last time we were talking about 
Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, and I believe 
this time you might have some concluding statements to make 
about the company. 

BEAVERS: Yes, thank you, Mr. Hopkins. I was just thinking 
that behind the statistical data in the annual statement is 
the real story of the service of Golden State Mutual Life. 
For example, the benefits paid to policyholders, the 
thousands of people who have received money to pay doctor 
bills, hospital bills, and to buy other necessities of 
life. Money to pay bills and funeral expenses. Money to 
pay for education. For example, I'm thinking of a barber I 
know who had — He has two sons. He had educational 
policies on both of his sons, and they both have graduated 
from college, and he is very proud of the fact that Golden 
State Mutual policies helped to pay their tuition through 
college. I am thinking of the money paid to finance 
purchase of homes and medical centers and other businesses. 
GSM has been a vital force in helping the people in every 
community in which it operates to finance their operations, 
such as home buying, and medical centers, and other busi- 
nesses of that type. 



108 



And then there's another factor, the benefits received 
by employees. Of course, naturally there [are] salaries, 
and there are retirement benefits, and all of the fringes 
that go along with the maintaining of a good working force. 
Our company has a reputation of which we are very proud: 
Not getting people to come to the company just because of 
the race, but they come to the company and enjoy the 
opportunities — the work opportunities — just as they [would] 
go to any other business. These kind of things can be best 
illustrated by citing certain examples. I'm thinking now 
of a young man who came to our company years ago when I was 
director of agencies, and I remember talking to this 
gentleman about the benefits he would receive, and I was 
also emphasizing the Monarch Award that we gave each year. 
HOPKINS: The Monica Award? 

BEAVERS: Monarch Award. We had at that time awards for 
the best records of service each year. And I was thinking 
of the reply, the response of this particular man. He 
said, "Mr. Beavers, I appreciate all of the awards and 
trophies that you give," he says, "but, I have four reasons 
to do a good job here. Those reasons are at home: my wife 
and three children." I thought that was a good answer. 
And, of course, that young man came up through the company, 
he served in various capacities. He was an assistant staff 
manager, and then staff manager, and then finally he was 



109 



one of our trainers. That man's family has grown up, and 
his son, no doubt you have heard of him, Johnnie Cochran, 
Jr. His last job was assistant district attorney of Los 
Angeles County. He gives Golden State credit for his 
success, because his dad was able to earn money to put him 
through school and give him the opportunity of becoming one 
of the outstanding lawyers in our city. 

HOPKINS: What was his father's name? Do you remember? 
BEAVERS: Johnnie [L.] Cochran [Sr.]. 
HOPKINS: Johnnie Cochran, that's right. 

BEAVERS: He was Johnnie Cochran, Sr. [laughter] Johnnie 
Cochran, he had his daughters, one is a teacher in the Los 
Angeles school system, and the other's a nurse, a graduated 
nurse. That's just one example of what it means to have 
this kind of opportunity — employment opportunity — that 
would enable one to take care of his family in such a 
manner and have them become a credit to, not only the 
family and the Golden State Mutual family, but to the 
entire Los Angeles community and to the nation. That's an 
example. Of course, that's just one example, there are 
many, many other examples. 

Of course, since that time, we have a new system, a 
leadership conference now, that every year the leading 
agency personnel go to some designated place. We've had 
conferences in Las Vegas, and conferences in Hawaii, 



110 



conferences in the, oh, islands, the Caribbean. And we've 
had conferences up in Canada. Those leadership confer- 
ences, that was instituted by Mr. Ernest Shell when he was 
agency director. He made quite an outstanding record with 
us. He's retired now, but he's the president of this 
Golden State Minority Foundation we talked about. 

Then, the matter of race relations, the company has 
been very active in various trade associations. I think I 
mentioned before how we focused upon breaking the racial 
barriers in all of the trade associations. We have hanging 
on the walls in the auditorium 102 awards, and we have 
twenty-four trophies that are now on display. And, oh, I'd 
say there are at least that many more that are packed away 
from previous years that — awaiting the time when we will 
have space for a real exhibition of the awards and trophies 
in a special room, as it should be. 

I think those are the remarks that I'd like to include 
in summing up what our company's meant. And, in this also, 
this matter of retirement, we have one of the best retire- 
ment plans of any corporation. The number of our retirees 
is continually increasing, because as people grow older and 
they — most of them are glad to get out and get the benefit 
of the retirement plan that they have, and that opens up 
the way for a new employee to come in, you see. 



Ill 



HOPKINS: What makes this retirement plan exceptional? Is 
there something — Can you give me an example? 
BEAVERS: Well, it's exceptional in that employees have a— 
They are not compelled to contribute, but they can con- 
tribute and augment the amount of their retirement salary 
by contributing, making an extra contribution to it them- 
selves. They are given that opportunity every year. 
That's one feature. And, of course, we keep it — keep up 
with the changes that take place, and we try to keep our 
retirement plan very, very up to date, see. We make a 
special effort along that line. 

Now, was there anymore on that? 
HOPKINS: Well, you mentioned in terms of a question here, 
you mentioned a barber who through your company, he helped 
to better his life. Do you remember his name? The bar- 
ber's name? 

BEAVERS: Yes, his name is Bracey. 
HOPKINS: Bracey. 

BEAVERS: Yes, that's the name of his barber shop. 
Bracey 's Barber Shop. 
HOPKINS: What was his first name? 

BEAVERS: Oh, I don't remember his first name. He's — I 
can get that, though, without any problem. [ Hayward 
Bracey] 



112 



HOPKINS: OK. And also the Monarch Award, could you 
explain that a little? 

BEAVERS: Well, that's an award that's given to — At that 
time, we were using that to recognize the outstanding 
agency producers, the leading agents. We called them 
Monarchs, because it was a term that we agreed on and was 
used for this particular recognition. And every year, that 
was — And, of course, we do it to a greater extent now, 
because we've enlarged it so that we have different — I 
guess I have one of them here — But we have different 
classes, we have many different classes. And, that's — And 
the winners each year, the top sales producers go on these 
trips to what we call a leadership conference. And that's 
a very good example of what it means to be a leader in 
the — It's quite an incentive. It motivates the personnel 
to seek to be up with their leaders, be numbered among the 
leaders, so that they can take this trip, and the trip is 
partially business, partially entertainment. 
HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, we've talked about racial matters 
with the company, and we've talked about the company 
progressing and using modern techniques. What about women 
in general in your company? There's a lot of discussion 
today about women's role in business, and so on. How have 
women fit into Golden State Mutual ' s — 



113 



BEAVERS: Well, from the very start we had — we recognized 
women, and we have a number of female employees who have 
attained that distinction that I've mentioned before, 
F.L.M.I., and the Fellowship Institute. They have advanced 
along with the men. They have — We had a woman — she's 
retired now — her name was Amanda Lockett, and she was the 
head of our data processing department. And you'll notice 
among officers listed in our statement, there's Gloria 
Beasley as assistant secretary, there's, well, Brenda 
Miller, she's F.L.M.I., she's assistant controller. Helen 
Batiste, she was the first office employee way back in 
1925, she's retired now, of course. She's still on the 
board of directors. We have, well until she retired, we 
had Lolette Davis, who was the head of our claims depart- 
ment for a number of years, and she's retired now. We have 
continually given recognition to the women, and they're 
invited to — or rather they have opportunities to, advance 
to any point according to their individual ability and 
their interest in advancing. 

HOPKINS: Has that pretty much always been the case? 
BEAVERS: Well back in — It started with my sister back in 
1925. [laughter] 

HOPKINS: Oh, I see, so from the beginning they've had 
opportunities. Can you remember who was the first woman 
insurance agent? 



114 



BEAVERS: Woman insurance agent. Well, now you're speaking 
of — I think, well I can't think of her name now. I 
remember several but I would hesitate to say who was first. 
HOPKINS: Sure. 

BEAVERS: I remember a woman named Mary Morgan, I remember 
a woman named Hackett, Mabel Hackett, and I remember a 
number — Let's see, I think Hackett, she became an as- 
sistant manager, and oh, the names don't come to me now. 
HOPKINS: Can you put a date on any of these? Or when 
there might have been the earliest? 
BEAVERS: What? 

HOPKINS: Can you remember a date, a year perhaps? I know 
this is taxing, because probably — Can you remember a date 
at all? Say, Morgan, what year was she an agent? 
BEAVERS: Oh, that was back in — In fact, we've always had 
some women on the agency staff from the very beginning. 
And I think this Mrs. Morgan that I'm thinking about, I 
think she's back then in 1925. I don't — I would have to 
go back to the records, and I could get that out for you, 
because, I'm sure we've always had some women on the staff. 
There were some women that were particularly outstanding, 
too, in their production. Of course most of these — Well 
some of them became full-time agents, but we had several 
who were part-time agents. Then we had quite a number, and 
we have quite a number now who are full-time agents, and 



115 



they get out there and wrestle with the men. In fact, in 
the leadership conference, we have a number of women who 
qualify and go to those conferences. If you'd be in- 
terested in getting some names, maybe I could — [tape 
recorder turned off] 

HOPKINS: Now, these are examples of some women who partici- 
pated at — What conference is this? 
BEAVERS: This was in 1976 — no, 1975. 

HOPKINS: The Leaders Roundtable Business Conference, I 
see . 

BEAVERS: Yes. And as members of that Roundtable, there 
was Maureen Carroll, Louise Marshall, Doris Wilson, and 
Erma L. Thompson. We had Helen Pinson, Lorene Jenkins, 
Marcelma Johnson, Dorothy Alderson. That gives you an 
idea. 

HOPKINS: That is quite a few. What's the criteria for 
selection as a leader? 
BEAVERS: What? 

HOPKINS: What is the criteria to be selected as a leader? 
BEAVERS: That criteria is set up each year for — You see, 
it's based upon the — Each year in the agency department 
they set up the criteria for becoming, or qualifying for, 
those awards. That's done each year, and it's movable, for 
obvious reasons. Conditions change, you have different 
sales material, and there is a difference in the, not only 



116 



in the type of material, but many times there's a dif- 
ference in the sales program. In other words, the — You 
have to set up conditions for that just as you would for a 
budget, based upon the objectives and the — mainly the 
company objectives, what the objectives are, and the type 
of material you have to work with. 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, as you think back in the early 
period, in the twenties and the thirties, can you remember 
any particular or special problems that women might have 
had as insurance agents at all? 
BEAVERS: Any special problems? 

HOPKINS: Right. Perhaps as an example, maybe clients 
would not like to have a woman serving as their agent, 
because perhaps in those days they would think that the 
woman wasn't capable, or wouldn't be as aggressive as an 
agent. Can you remember any things along those lines? 
BEAVERS: No, I don't. Nothing like that has registered 
in my mind. I don't — I know that women themselves 
didn't — Well, I can't say that either. [Inaudible] they 
didn't — This kind of thing didn't really appeal to them, 
but we found that in the very beginning there was an 
interest on the part of women in serving. I don't have 
before [me] now the number of women, but there were some 
women in our charter membership drive, I'm very sure there 
were some women in our charter membership drive. Women 
seemed to be 



117 



very active in business of this kind just as they are in 
other organizations, like churches and societies, and you 
know. 

HOPKINS: In looking at this Leaders Roundtable Business 
Conference Guide again, I notice there are two other awards 
that are possible here, the Ernest Shell Pioneer Award. 
Can you give us an example on that? 
BEAVERS: That's an award that he put up. 
HOPKINS: Who's that. Shell? 

BEAVERS: Ernest Shell. You know, I mentioned him as — He 
made an outstanding agency director, he's retired now and 
he is now president of the Golden State Minority Foun- 
dation. That's that institution that helps college 
graduates, it stimulates interest in getting a good busi- 
ness education. 

HOPKINS: Then the other award or group are the Knights. 
Who are the Knights? 

BEAVERS: Well, that's the name that we use, that's a div- 
ision, the Monarchs, the Knights, and what other. And then 
the others are just members. But those, they are divisions 
of — They represent divisions of the awards. Monarch is the 
top. First you have the outstanding leader, the man of the 
year, and then you have the Monarchs, and then we have the 
Millionaires, and that's a million dollars of production, 



118 



and then Monarchs, then the Knights. They're divisions 
that we have just set up in our own organization. 
HOPKINS: I see. You can have a woman of the year too, 
though. Or is it the man of the year, or is that agent of 
the year, or — 

BEAVERS: Well, we have had — A woman has qualified as 
the — Of course, it was somewhat of an embarrassment, but 
she was the leader for the year, and that's the one time. 
[laughter] It happened once that a woman won the honor. 
HOPKINS: What year was that? 

BEAVERS: I don't remember the year, but she was a Texas 
woman . 

HOPKINS: Was it recently, I mean since, say, the sixties 
or seventies, or was it back further? 

BEAVERS: No, it's been— It's within the last, well, I 
would say within the last fifteen years, I don't know just 
which year it was. 

HOPKINS: Sure no that's fine, as a reference that's good. 
BEAVERS: But it happened one time. 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, you've shared a great deal of infor- 
mation with us about Golden State, and we're sure you're 
very proud of it, and I know the community as well as the 
city of Los Angeles is very proud of Golden State Mutual. 
And before we close here, just some random thoughts, do you 



119 



have any other summaries or final statements you'd like to 
make about the company, or have you had your say? 
BEAVERS: I don't think of anything at this moment, but I 
did think it was important to get, to say a word or two 
about the picture behind the figures. You read the state- 
ment, but then to get the real picture of the service of 
the company, you have to go behind those figures and see 
what they mean. 

HOPKINS: I notice that Ivan Houston now heads the company. 
BEAVERS : Yes , 

HOPKINS: Do you have any relatives involved in the company 
who might carry on the Beavers name? 

BEAVERS: No, I'm sorry, we don't. [laughter] But I'm 
very happy with the leadership that we have, and I'm just 
hoping that they will develop other leadership that will be 
able to take their places as time goes on, because we 
expect the company to be perpetual, and to be perpetual you 
have to have leaders developing to take the places of those 
who have to go off the stage of action. [tape recorder 
turned off] 

HOPKINS: OK, Mr. Beavers, you have an incredible list of 
appointments to government, civil services, to community 
organizations, and so on, and we'll try to cover as many as 
we can. Let the record show that we're reading from a bio- 
graphical data sheet. 



120 



Mr. Beavers, I see one of the first items here, in 
1943 you received a certificate of appreciation from 
Franklin D. Roosevelt, president of the United States, in 
recognition of patriotic services rendered in aiding the 
administration of the Selective Training and Service Act. 
What was the Selective Training and Service Act? 
BEAVERS: Well, that was in connection with getting draf- 
tees, and that was the act that provided for getting 
— selecting and training draftees. I was on that board in 
our community. 

HOPKINS: So, in the Los Angeles black community. Was 
there a particular station you worked out of? 
BEAVERS: No, it wasn't divided racially, it was just — You 
see, at that time we didn't have the large population that 
we have now. And, of course, it was not a racial set up, 
it was mixed. 

HOPKINS: How did you come to be appointed to this board, 
if you can remember? 
BEAVERS: I didn't apply. 

HOPKINS: You didn't apply. [laughter] You were drafted. 
BEAVERS: But I suppose by virtue of the fact that I 
didn't — that I — Well, I don't know how it was I was — I 
guess just due to my other activities in the city, I was 
active in other committees and boards in the city. I don't 



121 



know — I couldn't pin down who caused my appointment or 
anything like that. 

HOPKINS: OK. Then in 1946 you received a Certificate of 
Merit from Harry S. Truman, president of the United States, 
for service in connection with reemployment programs. 
BEAVERS: Yes, and I remember that distinctly, because we 
did play an important part in trying to get jobs for the 
servicemen when they returned. And that's what that was 
about. 

HOPKINS: I see. Was that a successful program, to your 
estimation? 

BEAVERS: Yes, that was quite successful. It was suc- 
cessful in terms of getting employment, but of course, it's 
another story when you deal with breaking down the barriers 
of racial prejudice and getting equal opportunities. 
That's another story. But this was a good thing, because 
it helped to get these fellows jobs when they came back 
from the service. 

HOPKINS: How did you go about that? About getting them 
jobs? 

BEAVERS: Well, we worked with the various businesses, and 
through the Chamber of Commerce, and through the Merchants 
and Manufacturers Association, those types of organizations 
that had control of jobs. 



122 



HOPKINS: So, at least for a period, it was kind of an 
employment agency, of a kind. 
BEAVERS: Yes. 

HOPKINS: How long did this organization last? Do you 
recall offhand? 

BEAVERS: No, I don't recall offhand, but it must have 
been — I guess it must have been a couple of years anyway. 
HOPKINS: OK. Then in 1947 — Excuse me, let me back up 
here, in 1946, the First A.M.E. Church, you received a 
Certificate of Merit in recognition of achievements in the 
interest and welfare of the community and unselfish de- 
votion to religious, civic, and cultural advance of our 
city, state and nation. Do you have anything you might add 
to that? 

BEAVERS: Well, I think that covers it pretty well. It was 
just the attitude of the minister, and that minister was 
the Reverend Frederick [Douglass] Jordan. He later became 
a bishop. He's dead now, and it was just what it says 
there. He appreciated my service, and he gave me a nice 
plaque in recognition of that. 
HOPKINS: Was this a onetime certificate — 
BEAVERS: Yes. 

HOPKINS: — or was it given to other people year after 
year? 
BEAVERS: It was a onetime thing. 



123 



HOPKINS: Very good. In 1947, you were commended by Mayor 
Fletcher Bowron for competent service as chairman of the 
citizens' committee which made investigation of crime and 
police brutality in the Negro community. Was there police 
brutality in the Negro community during the forties? 
BEAVERS: Oh, yes. We had — They had quite a bit of that, 
and that was brought about by the protest of our people. 
Police brutality seemed to have been getting out of hand. 
And, of course, the mayor thought it necessary to have a 
committee to make an investigation and make a report, so 
that something could be done to change the picture. We did 
that, and Mayor Bowron was — he was quite a sincere man, and 
he wanted to see justice done, and I appreciated his 
commendation, and he appreciated my service. 
HOPKINS: What was the makeup of the committee racially? 
BEAVERS: Oh, it was mixed. It was a mixed committee. 
HOPKINS: You mentioned that the blacks protested, there 
was community protest. What form did that protest take? 
BEAVERS: Well, it was the usual form of protest. Through 
the organizations, the National Association for the Advance- 
ment of Colored People, and other civic organizations. 
They — I don't remember any particular case or outstanding 
case now, but it was just a matter of too many people being 
beaten. I don't — There was no death involved, but it was 
a matter of brutality. 



124 



HOPKINS: Why was this committee set up in 1947 ? i mean, 
was this — ? 

BEAVERS: Well, it was to make an investigation and a recom- 
mendation to the mayor so that he could deal with it. 
HOPKINS: Do you remember — Did people testify? Did people 
from the community testify before the committee? 
BEAVERS: Yes, we had interviews, and we'd make interviews 
separately, and we got a pretty good report together. 
HOPKINS: Are those reports, are those interviews, are they 
a matter of the public record? 

BEAVERS: Well, now I don't know that. I really don't know 
that. 

HOPKINS: One final question on this, Mr. Beavers. What 
was the result of the committee? I know you made a report 
to the mayor. Was there some action taken against par- 
ticular policemen or against the police department as a 
whole? 

BEAVERS: Well, as I recall, the report was submitted to 
the mayor who in turn submitted it to the police com- 
mission, and that way they brought about a change, improve- 
ment. 



125 



TAPE NUMBER: VI, SIDE TWO 
JUNE 22, 1982 

HOPKINS: To your knowledge, is this the first such com- 
mittee set up to investigate police actions with the black 
community? 

BEAVERS: Oh, I wouldn't say that. I don't — I never 
thought of it in terms of whether it was the first or not, 
and I really don't know. It could be, and maybe it wasn't, 
I don't know. 

HOPKINS: OK. All right. Let's see, as we go through our 
list here, we find that in 1948 you received the [George 
Washington] Carver Citation Award for outstanding service 
in business development of the community. What was the 
Carver Citation? 

BEAVERS: Well, that was a citation, and I think it's self- 
explanatory, and the meeting was held out at the Beverly 
Hilton Hotel, yes, there was a luncheon out there. And 
quite a number of people gathered to recognize me and the 
occasion, I guess. 

HOPKINS: OK. Is the name Carver significant? I mean, is 
this Carver — 
BEAVERS: Yes, that is — 
HOPKINS: — George Washington Carver? 
BEAVERS: Yes. They used his name for these awards. 



126 



HOPKINS: Do you know who sponsored this award at all? 
BEAVERS: It was sponsored by, oh, I forget the name of the 
man. I had some, some, I had some questions about the 
individual myself. 
HOPKINS: Oh, I see. 

BEAVERS: So I don't even remember his name. I guess he's 
dead now. 

HOPKINS: OK. In 1951 you received the Crusade for Freedom 
Citation for effective and unselfish service in Southern 
California. 

BEAVERS: Let's see, who presented that? That was pre- 
sented out here at the University of Southern California, I 
think. And I'm trying to think who was the head of it. So 
many years have gone, I don't remember. 
HOPKINS: Yes. In 1951, the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity 
Social Action Achievement Award in recognition of meri- 
torious service in the field of social action and civil 
rights. Were you involved in social — 

BEAVERS: I was involved in everything that had to do with 
civil rights. [laughter] 

HOPKINS: Were you a member of this fraternity? The Phi 
Beta Sigma? 

BEAVERS: Yes. I was one of the founders. 
HOPKINS: Oh, you were one of the founders. Can you give 
us a little background to the founding of that fraternity? 



127 



BEAVERS: Just, we got together and we thought we wanted to 
get this Greek-letter fraternity operating again, 
[inaudible] and a fellow named Perry was really the leader 
of it. 

HOPKINS: Perry, do you remember his first name? 
BEAVERS: No. What was Perry's name? I'd have to look it 
up. I remember the man, but I don't remember his first 
name at the moment. [William Perry] 

HOPKINS: Sure. What year did this fraternity form, 
roughly if not exactly? 

BEAVERS: Oh, let's see, it came into being sometime in 
the, either the late thirties or early forties. 
HOPKINS: I see. Was there any university in particular 
where this fraternity was established? 
BEAVERS: They — UCLA was its starting point. 
HOPKINS: OK. In 1951, the Outstanding Service Award was 
given to you from the Los Angeles County Conference on Com- 
munity Relations in recognition of devoted effort and dis- 
tinguished achievements dedicated to the advance of democ- 
racy and improvement of human relations. 

BEAVERS: Uh-hum. Now, that was a human relations — No, 
this is community relations. 

HOPKINS: Yes. In 1953, the Goldfeather Award, Community 
Chest, the women's division. 



128 



BEAVERS: I was very active in the Community Chest, and 
that was one — The women's division, of course, was one of 
the main divisions of the Chest. They appreciated my 
extraordinary services during that period. 
HOPKINS: Was there any particular area you worked in for 
the Community Chest that you can recall? 

BEAVERS: Well, I worked on the board, and on various com- 
mittees. I served on the audit committee, and I served on 
the — Let's see, there was the audit committee, and then 
there was another committee that I served on, that — I 
forget what they called that. But — 

HOPKINS: The audit committee was auditing the Community 
Chest? 

BEAVERS: Audited the social service organizations that 
depended upon the Community Chest for contributions. 
HOPKINS: I see. 

BEAVERS: That audit would include going over the budgets 
and checking — it was a large committee too — and raising 
questions, and making suggestions as to how they could cut, 
you know, and save the — The Community Chest had operated 
within a savings budgetary framework, and of course, they 
would have to make the allocations based upon the whole, 
the total number of agencies that they helped. And, of 
course, the auditing committee served to keep these or- 
ganizations, that is their budgets, in line with what the 



129 



Community Chest budget would be, you see. That was the 
thrust of that. 

HOPKINS: In 1954 you received, from the Alpha Phi Alpha 
fraternity, a human relations award. 

BEAVERS: Yes, that was an award that was — I appreciated 
them selecting me because I didn't belong to that frater- 
nity, and they sought me out. So I felt rather grateful 
for that. 

HOPKINS: Yes. Do you know very much about the Alpha Phi 
Alpha fraternity in terms of what university it's 
associated with in Los Angeles? 

BEAVERS: Oh, they don't go by universities, they're associ- 
ated with all universities. 

HOPKINS: Yes, yes, it's just a chapter I guess in this 
case. In 1955 you received the Red Feather Plaque, Com- 
munity Chest Award for outstanding citizenship. 
BEAVERS: Yes. Well, that again was from my overall work 
in the Community Chest. 

HOPKINS: Again in 1955 you received an award, this time 
the Rheingold Civic Award in recognition of tireless and 
unselfish devotion to the community. 

BEAVERS: Yes, well that was a commercial thing. I appreci- 
ated it, but it was — And of course, we have to appreciate 
the efforts of the corporations to utilize opportunities to 



130 



sell their goods and services. So while I appreciated the 
civic award, I recognized what they were doing. [laughter] 
HOPKINS: What business were they involved in? 
BEAVERS: Oh, the — Oh Rheingold, that was a beer company. 
HOPKINS: A beer company. I see. Was it a local beer com- 
pany? 

BEAVERS: Yes. They have long since departed. I think — I 
really don't think that was worthwhile. We don't need to 
carry on there. [laughter] 

HOPKINS: All right. Here's an interesting one. In 1957 
you were recognized for more than ten years of devoted 
service as a commissioner of the Housing Authority of the 
City of Los Angeles. Now, I know this could be a very 
detailed study, and if you don't mind I'd like to save this 
one until perhaps our next session 
BEAVERS: All right. 

HOPKINS: OK? Because this involves ten years of service, 
and I know there were a lot of things connected with that. 
BEAVERS: Well, that was — You know I served on that com- 
mission for thirteen years, I believe. Let's see, 1946 
— sixteen years, and nine of those years I was chairman. 
I don't know, there might be some other awards down 
here that — 



131 



HOPKINS: Yes, I'd like to touch up on all of them for our 
tape, and then come back to the ones that we can discuss 
more fully. 
BEAVERS: All right. 

HOPKINS: In 1960, you received the George Washington 
Carver Memorial Institute's Gold Award for outstanding 
contributions to the betterment of race relations and human 
welfare. During that year 1960, or maybe 1959, was there 
any — 

BEAVERS: Wait a minute, is that a duplication of — ? 
HOPKINS: It looks different. One is business development, 
and this one is race relations and human welfare. 
BEAVERS: This is the one that I was thinking about, and we 
discussed it up here. This is the one that I was thinking 
about, and I said about that hotel — the Beverly Hills 
Hilton Hotel — that must be it. I don't know, I don't even 
remember this one now, in '48, 1948. I don't remember what 
that was . 

HOPKINS: Well, then this one in '60, was there a par- 
ticular or specific act that you did in race relations and 
human welfare that earned you this award? 

BEAVERS: Well, that's what they felt. This is, yes, this 
is the one that I was thinking about when I was talking 
about the one up here in '48, twelve years later. 
HOPKINS: OK. 



132 



BEA\7ERS: I don't just remember this one in '48. I don't 
know what that was. Evidently it was — this says in busi- 
ness development, too — Well, I remember this one in 1960. 
Because that was one that I was thinking about when I 
mentioned it just now. 

HOPKINS: You mentioned that they probably gave this for a 
particular event. Do you remember what particular activity 
or event that you accomplished? 

BEAVERS: No, that was a Rheingold you're talking about. 
HOPKINS: Oh, I see. 

BEAVERS: I didn't say that about the Carver Award. 
HOPKINS: In 1962 you received an award of merit for 
community service from the Welfare Planning Council [Los 
Angeles Region], 

BEAVERS: Yes, now that was an important award, because it 
was the Planning Council. It was associated with the 
Community Chest, because it planned, it helped organiza- 
tions to plan their social service work for the entire Los 
Angeles area, and I enjoyed working with them. A long 
time, and I really appreciated their recognition of my 
service . 

HOPKINS: In 1962 you received the Recognition Award for 
National Insurance Association for outstanding service as 
president. Now, did you serve as president in 1963, or is 
that — 



133 



BEAVERS: From '62 to '63. 

HOPKINS: Oh, from '62 to '63. You've given us an account 
before in earlier sessions on the National Insurance Associ- 
ation, but could you give us a brief background as to how 
you were elected president? 

BEAVERS: Well, I was elected by their vote. [laughter] 
HOPKINS: All right. 

BEAVERS: I did their — I was a keynote speaker for that 
organization. I believe that was in Los Angeles, and I was 
elected at that meeting, I was elected president, and I 
served until the next meeting, which was held in Chicago. 
I think I — I don't know if this is on record or not, but 
Martin Luther King [Jr.] was our speaker in the meeting in 
Chicago. He was really dynamite. Was that on tape? 
HOPKINS: I don't think you mentioned that he was a guest 
speaker in '63. 

BEAVERS: Well, let me see. I have, well, I'll show it to 
you. [tape recorder turned off] 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, as president of the NIA, National 
Insurance Association, what were your duties? 
BEAVERS: Well, being president of the NIA, you held all 
the responsibilities of leadership for that year. You have 
to work with you a director, who is an employee, full-time 
employee, and you actually direct the activities of the 
association through that year. And you have a board of 



134 



directors, and you have the corps of officers who serve 
with you, and you're responsible for the appointments of 
the various committees that are needed to achieve the 
program of that particular year. It's quite a job because 
it's all volunteer service, and the company that you 
represent of course takes care of your expenses while you 
do this job in addition to the job that you occupy with 
your own organization. So it's quite a big order. 
HOPKINS: Do you work out of your own headquarters, your 
own, say the Golden State headquarters, or do you go to a 
central office of the association? 

BEAVERS: No, you work out of your own, you have your own 
office. For instance, I was chairman of the board of the 
Golden State Mutual Life, and I was serving as president of 
the association, and I had to take care of my duties at the 
Golden State plus doing this. From time to time you have 
to go to the other points, you go to the — I would visit 
the headquarters of the NIA in Chicago, and attend other 
meetings that involved the NIA operations from time to 
time, as necessary. 

HOPKINS: Is the NIA divided into regions? 
BEAVERS: No, no. We don't have that many companies. 
HOPKINS: Is there an attempt for you to visit as many com- 
panies as possible during the year, or is that an obliga- 
tion? 



135 



BEAVERS: That's not an obligation, but it's nice to do it, 

as to visit when you can. But that isn't an obligation. 

The obligation is to try to put over the association's 

program for that particular year, and do the best you can 

to lay the foundation for it succeeding. 

HOPKINS: Did you have any desire to be re-elected? 

BEAVERS: No. [laughter] You don't have re-elections. In 

fact, everyone is glad when his time is up, because it can 

come back to you later on after some years. 

HOPKINS: In 1966 you received an Appreciation Award for 

field representatives at GSM, an Appreciation Award for 

home office employees of GSM? 

BEAVERS: Yes, that's — The picture's up here. The plaques 

up there. 

HOPKINS: I see. And then the Scroll of Honor Award for 

the West Los Angeles Branch of the NAACP. 

BEAVERS: Yes, that was delivered to me at the Biltmore 

Hotel, a big meeting that they were having. They held this 

meeting at the Biltmore. A fellow named [Philip] Murray, I 

believe his name was, he was a big labor leader, and he 

came out and was the speaker. He's dead now. 

HOPKINS: Of course, when we talk about the Housing 

Authority, I would like to turn again to the NAACP, but for 

now, I see that also in 1966 you received a, well, there's 

a resolution made for a commendation for public service 



136 



from the Board of Supervisors of Los Angeles County. What 
was that about? 

BEAVERS: Well, just as it says. That was in 1966. I have 
those listed around here. I guess I'll show them to you 
when we get through, but I have all these awards hanging up 
in different places. 

HOPKINS: Oh, OK. We've mentioned your affiliation and 
your membership with the Holman Methodist Church, and 
they've given you an award also in '66 for effective 
service and leadership, I suppose in the church? 
BEAVERS: Yes. They were particularly happy over my work 
as chairman of the board during the period that they were 
building the — They built a second building there, what did 
they call it? [Christian Education Building] The pastor 
would be disgusted with me for not knowing the name of that 
building, but that was in honor of my special service, and 
the leadership given in getting that building built. 
HOPKINS: In terms of financial support? Or — 
BEAVERS: No. Well, I gave financial support too, but this 
was in recognition of my leadership. Of course, that 
involves several meetings with the Methodist board down- 
town, and getting them to see the light. [laughter] 
HOPKINS: Just a couple more here, then we'll stop for 
today. The resolution — You received a resolution of 



137 



commendation from the Los Angeles City Council for out- 
standing community service? 
BEAVERS: That was in '68? 
HOPKINS: Yes. 

BEAVERS: I have that out there, and then I have a Human 
Relations Award from the City of Los Angeles in 1971, and a 
Pioneer Award from Los Angeles Chapter of National Associ- 
ation of Media Women. All of these are nice awards, and I 
have them here, I'd be glad to show them to you. 
HOPKINS: As we stop here with '74 and this award, can you 
tell me what is the National Association of Media Women? 
BEAVERS: Well, that's an association of women involved 
with the newspaper, or well, not only newspaper, but 
newspaper, magazine, radio, television, that's the reason 
they call it media. 

HOPKINS: Is this an integrated organization? 
BEAVERS: No, that's — I think that's strictly Negro. Yes, 
it is . 

HOPKINS: Well, thank you, Mr. Beavers for your time again 
today, and we'll continue our discussion of community 
organization and civic responsibilities and go into more 
depth on a couple of organizations. 

BEAVERS: All right. I'm pleased to have the opportunity 
to give you this information, and to do whatever I can to 
help promote your program of history. 



138 



HOPKINS: Thank you. 



139 



TAPE NUMBER: VII, SIDE ONE 
JULY 1, 1982 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, today we'd like to continue our dis- 
cussion of your participation in civic organizations and 
voluntary associations. We left off last time in 1974 with 
the Pioneer Award given to you by the L.A. Chapter of the 
National Association of Media Women. There were some other 
key organizations that you were involved in and we'd like 
to deal with those today since we have more time. Can you 
tell me about your service on the Los Angeles Housing 
Authority Commission. Perhaps beginning with how you 
became a member of that board. 

BEAVERS: Well, I became a member in 19 46, Mayor Bowron was 
the mayor at the time, and he appointed me. There was a 
vacancy on the board occasioned by the resignation of Mr. 
Floyd [C] Covington, and I was appointed in 1946. I 
served on the commission for sixteen years. In fact, I had 
the privilege of serving that commission under three 
different mayors. Mayor Bowron, Mayor Norris Poulson , and 
for a short time, Mayor — I can't think of the man's name 
now. 

HOPKINS: Mayor [Samuel William] Yorty you mean? 
BEAVERS: Mayor Yorty. Incidentally, that was quite an 
experience, because it came at a time when the city of Los 



140 



Angeles — that is the council of the city — had reneged on 
its agreement for a new housing program, consisting of 
approximately ten thousand units. The division and the 
tension and the animosities arising out of that were so 
great that the city council couldn't get organized until 
the matter was settled. And I remember going with the 
representatives of the housing authority and the city 
council to Washington, where we conferred with the federal 
housing authority and negotiated an agreement, which was a 
compromise settlement, which enabled the council to go 
ahead with this meeting. That meeting was — That meeting 
of the council in which they approved the compromise was 
really something. I appeared before the council with Mayor 
Poulson. We presented the agreement and got unanimous 
approval of council. 

HOPKINS: What was the issue of that was contended? 
BEAVERS: Well, the Los Angeles housing development — A 
private organization was opposed to the ten thousand unit 
program, and through their activities they had succeeded in 
influencing the council to renege on the agreement. Of 
course, at the time they didn't feel that the program could 
go through, despite the fact that the housing authority had 
already signed the agreement, and had spent considerable 
money preparing for the implementation of the program. 
There was quite a feeling against public housing that had 



141 



been sponsored by this organization. So they didn't 
anticipate that it would go on to the Supreme Court, and it 
did take a ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States 
to verify, to confirm that the agreement was good. And 
that was the cause for having to negotiate or compromise so 
that they could get organized. The factions in the council 
were so divided that they really couldn't organize a 
council. They couldn't elect a president, they couldn't 
get their committees appointed, or anything. 
HOPKINS: Because each side was lobbying for this and 
that — 

BEAVERS: Well, they were so evenly divided and they 
couldn't get a majority vote until the matter was settled. 
HOPKINS: If you think back to that period, what were the 
arguments against public housing that you can remember off- 
hand? 

BEAVERS: Well, number one, they objected to three stories 
or more, that was one of the main objections, and of 
course, there was some indication of racism in it too. 
They felt that this was a program that would serve the 
black population, and also they felt that we didn't need 
any more public housing. Really that was a feeling that 
public housing was encroaching upon the interest of private 
housing development. It was quite a story. 



142 



HOPKINS: This company you mentioned, the private con- 
struction company, was it? 

BEAVERS: It wasn't a construction company, it was an 
association of builders, home — 
HOPKINS: Oh, I see. 

BEAVERS: I think it was called the Los Angeles Home 
Builders Association or something like that. I could go to 
the records and get the exact name. I don't recall the 
exact name, but it was — I think if that wasn't the exact 
name it was something to that effect. The Los Angeles Home 
Builders Association. 

HOPKINS: And what were the arguments for public housing? 
BEAVERS: Well, the arguments for public housing were that 
there was such a shortage of housing and that people — the 
poorer class — which the housing development served, were 
just, they just could not be served by any private agency. 
Two things: in the first place they didn't have the money 
to afford the kind of rents that these people would charge 
— that private industry would charge — and under the agree- 
ment of public housing, allowances were made for that. 
They could pay so much of their earnings and there was a 
limited amount that they would have to pay. They had a 
formula that was based upon the number in the family, the 
number of rooms that they occupied. And it was — That 



143 



entered into it also, the competition with private enter- 
prise. 

HOPKINS: Now, you first mentioned that you first served 
under Mayor Bowron. When did this particular controversy 
come to light, was it under Mayor Bowron or Poulson? 
BEAVERS: No, it — This controversy started during the term 
of Mayor Bowron, and really it was the cause of the defeat 
of Mayor Bowron. 

HOPKINS: It caused the defeat of Mayor Bowron. 
BEAVERS: Yes, this housing squabble. 
HOPKINS: What was his stance on it? 

BEAVERS: Oh, Bowron was for it, and he was with the 
housing authority. And that was the thing that defeated 
him in the election — in the next election. 
HOPKINS: Were there members on the housing authority who 
were anti-public housing? 

BEAVERS: Oh, no. No members on the housing authority. 
They were all for it, you know. 

HOPKINS: OK, now when Mayor Poulson was elected, what was 
his stance on it? 

BEAVERS: Well, his — He had a stance against public 
housing coming in. But he was converted after he got in. 
[ laughter ] 
HOPKINS: How was he converted? 



144 



BEAVERS: Well, that trip to Washington, when he understood 
the legal aspects of it, and he was reasonable, and he 
was — He helped to work out the compromise. 
HOPKINS: Was there any discussion among those individuals 
who were against it that this was kind of a socialist 
activity to have public housing, was that — ? 
BEAVERS: Yes, they used that too. They used that, and the 
communists, and all those arguments were used. And it was 
out of that argument that new legislation was — State 
legislation was approved which provided for no public 
housing to be built without the vote of the people in the 
community affected. 

HOPKINS: I see. So for each public housing unit that was 
built there had to be a — 

BEAVERS: No, no, not each public housing, but in each pol- 
itical subdivision or each city or county of the state. 
HOPKINS: They would approve it on a yearly basis, or — 
BEAVERS: Oh, they'd have to approve — They'd have to get 
their approval before they could build. Once they approved 
it, though, that's — It's only a one-time deal. Once they 
approved it, and then it was built, why that was it. 
HOPKINS: When you were on the board, what was the first 
public housing project that was OK'd? 

BEAVERS: Well, after this compromise agreement, then we 
set about to build, oh, four thousand three hundred and 



145 



some units, almost half of the program that was originally 
approved. 

HOPKINS: OK, so the program was approved for ten thousand 
units . 

BEAVERS: Originally. 

HOPKINS: Originally. And then the compromise was reached 
about what year? Can you recall? 

BEAVERS: Well, the year that Poulson was elected. 
HOPKINS: I see. 

BEAVERS: The first year, that was the first order of busi- 
ness. The council couldn't get started until that item was 
taken care of. 

HOPKINS: So from there, do you recall the first site that 
was allowed for the building? 

BEAVERS: Well, it had a number of sites. I remember that 
the largest development that was built was the Nickerson 
Gardens, down in South Los Angeles, and I can't recall the 
order of the finish of these projects because there were 
several, and we had two that were down in South Los 
Angeles, and we had one up on Pico Boulevard, and then we 
had — of course we had that Chavez Ravine property, but we 
didn't build any housing up there, and we had the develop- 
ments on — oh, in East Los Angeles, called the Pico Gardens. 
I didn't anticipate having to go into any detail on this. 



146 



I could get more detail on it, but I don't think it would 
serve any particular purpose, because the number of units — 
HOPKINS: Yes, yes, we can get that, but just in terms of 
discussion — You related to me earlier about a story as to 
how Nickerson Gardens received its name. Could you tell us 
that for the good of the record? 

BEAVERS: Well, I suggested the name of Nickerson because 
William Nickerson was the founder of Golden State Mutual 
Life Insurance Company, and at the time I thought it would 
be of interest and be an honor to use his name as the — To 
identify one of these projects, and in particular the 
largest project that was being built. At that time it 
seemed like a good thing. 

HOPKINS: And now you have different feelings about it? 
BEAVERS: Well, of course, through the years, why, the com- 
munity has changed and we had some elements of the popula- 
tion that are criminally inclined, and the community itself 
has taken on a different aspect, not through any fault of 
the housing authority, but in that particular community 
we've had too much crime and drugs and homicides, and 
things like that. And, of course, the housing authority 
property in a community like that, it takes on, it has to 
take on the image of that community. It can't be separate 
and distinct from the community because it's a part of the 
community, and I guess I personally kind of feel like that 



147 



it isn't such — isn't as great an honor as I thought it 
would be at the time. 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, you mentioned earlier that one of 
the fears — or one of the thoughts — among some people was 
that these housing authorities were mainly geared for 
blacks. Were the majority of these housing projects 
inhabited by blacks? 

BEAVERS: Well, eventually that happened, but that happened 
over a period of years as the populations of the community 
changed, but the housing authority had a very strict policy 
of renting to people on the basis of their need and their 
fitting the qualifications outlined for that housing, and 
race didn't enter into it. But over a period of time with 
the usual pattern of Negroes moving out and whites moving 
in these communities changed, and that's one of the things 
that has caused and continues to cause a pattern of segreg- 
ation, racial segregation, in these large metropolitan 
areas like Los Angeles. You can trace it from, oh back 
from the early 1900s on. First, I remember distinctly 
there was a time when there were absolutely no Negroes 
living west of Central Avenue. The next border line was 
Avalon, San Pedro Street, and the next was Main Street, 
Figueroa, and progressing until they get to the ocean, 
[laughter] So, there's a time, you see, when it wears out, 
and it's an economic, it's both an economic and a racial 



148 



problem, because since the Supreme Court issued its 
[ruling] against restrictive covenants Negroes live any- 
where in Los Angeles. We find — It would be difficult to 
find a community in Los Angeles where you wouldn't find 
some Negroes. That applies even to Beverly Hills. 
HOPKINS: Were you the only black member on the housing 
authority during the years you served? 
BEAVERS: Yes. 

HOPKINS: And you served from 1946 to — 
BEAVERS: Nineteen Sixty- two. 

HOPKINS: — to 1962. I want to talk about that a bit, but 
first I understand that there were at least two former 
black members on the housing committee. Looking at the 
records, was Paul Williams on the housing committee? 
BEAVERS: No, he was an architect for some of the develop- 
ments, he was an architect for the Nickerson housing 
development . 

HOPKINS: But he didn't actually serve as a member of the 
housing community? 
BEAVERS: No, no, no. 

HOPKINS: Well, then Floyd Covington was? 

BEAVERS: Floyd Covington, and then there was a woman that 
preceded Floyd, I believe, yes, Mrs., oh — [tape recorder 
turned off] 
HOPKINS: OK. So there's Covington, and — 



149 



BEAVERS: Mrs. William Terry. 

HOPKINS: Mrs. William Terry. Do you remember her first 
name? 

BEAVERS: Well, her husband's name was William. He was a 
building contractor, but, oh, what was her first name now? 
I don't remember at the moment, I might come back to that, 
but Mrs. Terry was the other commissioner. 
HOPKINS: What were Mr. Covington's years of service, if 
you can remember offhand, or roughly what were his years? 
BEAVERS: Well, I don't — I think he served a couple of 
years. You see, this housing authority, it came about as a 
result of housing policies developed under the Roosevelt 
administration, and it was only in the thirties that it 
came about, so it had not been operating too long. 
HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, on the housing authority, so far 
we've talked about the public housing that they were 
involved in. What were some other activities this com- 
mission was involved in, or was that the principal? 
BEAVERS: That was it, that was it. They had a sixty-five 
million dollar program at one time, and they had their 
hands full doing that. You see, it's volunteer work 
anyway. You simply had your expenses paid, and there were 
expenses you incurred in connection with the work, and you 
got that, but it was volunteer work. 



150 



HOPKINS: So, you would not try to find private housing or 
any kind of housing for people who were in need of housing? 
BEAVERS: No, the public housing authority was confined to 
developing, finding housing for people who were unable to 
qualify for purchasing of homes or renting under the 
regular procedures. See, in other words, the disadvantaged 
people. People who's salaries were not, were below the 
level, and they were classed as low-income applicants. In 
other words, they couldn't qualify for public housing 
unless total salaries were below the poverty level, and so 
that was the class of people that the housing authority 
served. And that was the one thing that set them apart, 
and that was the one thing that enabled them to — enabled 
these particular classes of people to have decent housing, 
because it was demonstrated over and over that the regular 
housing in the private industry could not provide housing 
for these particular classes of people at rents that they 
could afford to pay. That confined the operations of the 
housing authority to serving that class of people. 
HOPKINS: As we said, you began your career on this board 
in 1946. Can you give us some thought, and trace for us 
your activities on the housing board between 1946 and 1962? 
BEAVERS: Well, I was just a member of the commission for 
seven years, and I was vice-chairman for a part of the 



151 



time, but I became chairman, and I served as chairman for 

nine years. 

HOPKINS: How were you first appointed to the board? You 

said — 

BEAVERS: I was appointed by the mayor. 

HOPKINS: And how did he know about you? How did he come 

to know about you? 

BEAVERS: How did he come to know about me? 

HOPKINS: Yes. 

BEAVERS: Oh, I guess through — He had appointed me on 

other committees, I guess, and he knew me from the company, 

from the business angle, and that's how I was known. I was 

known as a part of Golden State Mutual Life Insurance 

Company, and also I was active in so many things. 

HOPKINS: OK. 

BEAVERS: Did that answer your question? 

HOPKINS: You did. OK, then you were acting vice-chairman 

from 1952 to 1953. How did you become vice-chairman? What 

was the method of selection there? 

BEAVERS: Oh, the board had its method of selection, it 

elected officers every year. 

HOPKINS: How many people on the board? 

BEAVERS: Five. 

HOPKINS: Five. And then you became the chairman by the 

same process? 



152 



BEAVERS: Yes, elected, and that means I was re-elected 

every year for eight years. 

HOPKINS: Was that unusual, or — 

BEAVERS: Well, it was unusual they didn't have anybody 

else. [laughter] 

HOPKINS: Well, you must have been doing something right. 

Were there any memorable events that happened while you 

were chairman of the commission? 

BEAVERS: Well, we had — Oh, yes, there were a number of 

things that happened in the ordinary operations. Of 

course, at that time there was a lot of attention given to 

the activities of the communists, and if you recall that 

was a time in which they had a committee, a government 

committee that would search out the communists. 

HOPKINS: Was this the [House] Committee on Un-American 

Activities? 

BEAVERS: Yes, the Committee on Un-American Activities, and 

that was the time when they were operating and in that 

field I had the displeasure of terminating a man who was in 

our public relations department, who was very gifted and 

was doing quite a nice job, but we had to terminate him on 

account of his activities. And, let's see, well, they had 

reasons to suspect him, I assume. 

HOPKINS: What was his name? Can you share it with us? 

BEAVERS: His name was [Frank B. ] Wilkinson. 



153 



HOPKINS; First name? 

BEAVERS: I don't remember his first name. His initial was 
F. I don't know whether it was Freddie or what. 
HOPKINS: Now, what did he allegedly do? 

BEAVERS: Well, just being a member of the Communist Party 
was sufficient, you know. 

HOPKINS: And he was a member of the Communist Party? 
BEAVERS: Well, that's what they said, and we had to take 
their word for it, and they seemed to have had the evidence 
to support it. 

HOPKINS: Was this a local group who said this or a na- 
tional? I mean, do you remember what body asked you — ? 
BEAVERS: Well, they had — The Committee on Un-American 
Activities made the investigation, and it came to our at- 
tention, and naturally we had to act on it. And as chair- 
man it was my responsibility to terminate his services. 

That was on the darker side. We had many things that 
came up. One of the things outgrowing, coming out of this 
reorganization, and the compromise agreement, we had to get 
rid of the property that we would not be using due to the 
curtailed operations. And one of the good things that came 
out was the selling of the Chavez Ravine property, that is 
most of, it to the Dodger organization for the accom- 
modation of major league baseball. And that was very 
interesting, because it required negotiations with the 



154 



Dodger administration and, of course, there were those who 
thought that the contract agreement with the Dodgers was 
giving away some property, and they insisted upon — The 
opponents of it got up a petition which required an elec- 
tion to determine whether or not the city would approve it, 
and that was a very interesting activity, and — 
HOPKINS: Can you share with us — ? 

BEAVERS: Let's see, that was voted on and I did have the 
year — '56 . 
HOPKINS: 1956? 

BEAVERS: Yes. 1956. The property that we had in Chavez 
Ravine, of course the city was not receiving any — it was 
such a small amount of money, you might say they were not 
receiving anything from that property. It was mostly, a 
considerable amount of it was yearly, and then that that 
was occupied, it had housing on it. The housing was in 
such bad shape that the city was not getting any revenue 
from that property at all. 

HOPKINS: The little revenue it was getting, where did it 
come from? 

BEAVERS: Oh, a few scattered places that were in one 

section of it. 

HOPKINS: So property tax from those few properties. 



155 



BEAVERS: Yes, and it didn't amount to very much. So to 
compare that with the millions of dollars that the city 
receives now from the Dodger organization in taxes cer- 
tainly demonstrates the wisdom of their action. It was a 
real hot contest for the, in the election, but we won out, 
and the contract went through. That was interesting. And 
then from time [to time] we had meetings that kept the 
public informed as to what the housing authority program 
was doing, and its service to the city. 

HOPKINS: How did the housing authority come to acquire the 
Chavez Ravine land? 

BEAVERS: Oh, under the eminent domain process. 
HOPKINS: Now, I understand there was some process among 
those people who were living in Chavez Ravine against the 
housing authority — 
BEAVERS: Buying the property? 
HOPKINS: Buying the property. 

BEAVERS: Against the condemnation of their property for — 
Yes, there was. And, of course, the housing authority won 
out in that though, and I don't recall any legal case. 
What was done was just to assure the people that they would 
provide other housing for them. 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, we had a interview with Mr. Poulson 
a few years back, and he said that for three years he tried 
to get public groups interested in the Chavez Ravine area. 



156 



but he couldn't seem to get anyone interested in developing 
it. Do you have any comments along those lines? 
BEAVERS: Well, I'm sure that was a fact, because he — Al- 
though he came in as an opponent of public housing, I must 
say that once he saw the problem, he did all that he could 
to promote the program, and I'm sure that what he said 
there is correct, that he tried to get other people inter- 
ested. Because after he had been responsible for defeating 
the mayor who was favorable to public housing, I'm sure 
that he felt obligated to try to do something to justify 
the faith and the support that he received from the people 
who caused his election. I have found Norris Poulson to be 
quite a good mayor, and whatever attitudes he had against 
public housing, why, they got lost in the shuffle, because 
during my association with him we worked together very 
satisfactorily. I considered him one of my good friends, I 
still communicate with him, send cards and all, so it is a 
very good feeling that exists between us. 



157 



TAPE NUMBER: VII, SIDE TWO 
JULY 1, 1982 

HOPKINS: OK, so you were saying that pretty good relations 
then existed between you and Mayor Poulson? 
BEAVERS: Oh, excellent relations. 

HOPKINS: I remember reading also in his oral history that 
he mentioned that he did have member friends on the housing 
committee, and he particularly and specifically mentioned 
you, and that he still communicated with you, 
BEAVERS: Yes, that's true. 

HOPKINS: Now, as you said, he came in as an anti-public 
housing person, and he changed and became, if not pro- 
housing, at least responsive to public housing. 
BEAVERS: He accepted his responsibilities as mayor, 
because he had that program with him, like it or not, when 
he went to Washington and they had this compromise agree- 
ment, but then it was his program, he was mayor, and he 
accepted it and, I think, did a very satisfactory job. 
HOPKINS: OK, in your opinion, given the fact that he had 
these feelings against public housing, did that have 
anything to do with him allowing [Walter F. ] O'Malley [to] 
take the Chavez Ravine area? 

BEAVERS: Oh, no, no. That was strictly a business proposi- 
tion, and everybody connected with it saw it as such. 



158 



HOPKINS: Was there any division in the housing authority 
itself among its members as to whether Chavez Ravine should 
be sold to Mr. O'Malley? 
BEAVERS: Oh, no. 

HOPKINS: The housing authority as a group unanimously — 
BEAVERS: Yes, they were unanimous on that. We couldn't 
use it for housing, you see under the compromise agreement 
we couldn't use it, and this was a good opportunity to get 
rid of it — 

HOPKINS: And benefit the city. 
BEAVERS: — and benefit the city. 

HOPKINS: I see. Well, let me ask you, what was this com- 
promise? Why couldn't Chavez Ravine be used as housing? I 
might have missed it. 

BEAVERS: Well, the number of units was cut down from ten 
thousand to four thousand three hundred and some, you see. 
Well, you have a lot of property there that can't be used. 
HOPKINS: So, what you mentioned earlier about this four 
thousand units, that was the ceiling then for public 
housing in Los Angeles? 

BEAVERS: That was a ceiling on this particular program, 
because that was what we were dealing with. 
HOPKINS: I see. OK, so those units had already been al- 
located, so we had Chavez Ravine, with really nothing to do 
with it in terms of public housing? Is that correct? 



159 



BEAVERS : No . 

HOPKINS: No, oh, help me please. 

BEAVERS: No, you see, the plans for use of the property 
had all been approved and that included Chavez Ravine and 
some other sites, and when we reached this compromise 
agreement, it was agreed that instead of ten thousand units 
there 'd only be four thousand three hundred and some units 
used — built. Well, that — It was necessary — The basis of 
that compromise was ruling out any units or any buildings 
that would exceed two stories. They had some three- and 
four-story buildings, and of course when you rule out that 
number of units, and you have to confine it to two-story 
units, well then naturally you can't build as many. And, 
we had to narrow the — We had to reduce the number of units 
and build them in such a way as they would be self sup- 
porting, and in order to do that, why, you have all this 
land, and it was hilly land which was involved, that we had 
to dispose of. And nobody helped us to decide when and 
where and what, that was our little red wagon we had to 
work with. In that connection this happened to come along 
as a very timely project that enabled us to come out of it 
without losing. 

HOPKINS OK. The compromise again, who were the people 
involved in it? 



160 



BEAVERS: That was with the federal housing authorities. 
Federal housing is, it was back in Washington, they — all of 
the public housing in the United States is under that 
agency, and the superintendent of public housing at the 
time had the responsibility and we had to work with him and 
his board. Work with him on reducing and getting a program 
that would take the place of the one that had already been 
approved. 

HOPKINS: What was his name, the superintendent, can you 
remember offhand? 

BEAVERS: I think his name was Slusser. 

HOPKINS: OK, very good, thank you. Are there any other 
comments you want to share with us concerning the housing 
authority? 

BEAVERS: No, I think I mentioned that we had meetings from 
time to time. They did have a meeting in which I was pre- 
sented a plaque in recognition of my service. 
HOPKINS: You retired from this committee in 1962. Why? 
BEAVERS: Mayor Yorty was elected and there were some 
things that he and I didn't agree on. I won't comment on 
them in this — 

HOPKINS: In this session? OK. We'd like you to though, 
if you would, but if you'd rather not — 

BEAVERS: Well, it's really political, and I don't think 
those kind of things do any good. 



161 



HOPKINS: Do you know if he appointed any blacks to the 
housing authority under his administration? Say in that 
first session, in that first term? 

BEAVERS: I really don't know. He didn't replace me right 
away, he let me — First he thought he could use me, and he 
found out he couldn't, and I really don't know who he ap- 
pointed. He waited though until he was sure that he would 
have a majority on the commission. One thing happened, one 
of the commissioners got killed in an accident, and then 
there was a vacancy that occurred, and then with my resig- 
nation that assured him a majority on the commission. So, 
as these things happened, why that was the reason I served 
a year under his administration. He tried to get me to 
agree with him and ignore the regulations for hiring, so 
that some of his people could be employed in the housing 
authority. 

I said I wouldn't tell you, but I can tell you that 
much. 

HOPKINS: Well, certainly, as you know, any part that you 
say we can close for the record. 

BEAVERS: And so I wouldn't budge on that, I told him, no, 
I wouldn't make a deal. I wasn't going to — First of all, 
I told him I knew how he felt, and if — I would step down 
any time. All he had to do was to let me know when he was 
ready and who he wanted to appoint, and it was all right 



162 



with me. I wasn't interested in continuing in the service, 
so he tried a couple of times to win me over by — if I just 
agree, you know, if we could agree on a number of jobs that 
we would pass on, and they wouldn't be subject to the 
regular civil service procedure. Well, I wouldn't want to 
get in any nest like that. [laughter] So that was it. 
When he found out I meant business, that it was no deal, 
then he finally, as soon as he had this opportunity to get 
a majority, why then he notified me that my resignation was 
accepted. 

HOPKINS: Could you relate for us any specific example of 
what he wanted you to do? 



BEAVERS 
HOPKINS 
BEAVERS 
HOPKINS 



I just did. 

All right, we'll leave it — 

I wouldn't want to go into any detail on that. 

OK. Mayor Poulson said that a number of things 
that were begun under his administration. Mayor Yorty took 
credit for, including the Dodgers to some degree, and so 
on. Do you — 

BEAVERS: He gave his full cooperation, we didn't have any 
problem with him. Another thing that shows you about poli- 
tics, now, of course, coming in, he was right with this 
gang that was opposed to housing authority, and he stepped 
right into office. And he got in there, and of course, I 
have to agree there was nothing he could do because all 



163 



this had gone on before, and the best thing he could do was 
what he did. He joined with us and went to Washington, and 
that's where I really got acquainted with him. He made it 
his business to invite me as his seat partner, and we went 
on the train. 

HOPKINS: This is Mayor — ? 
BEAVERS: Mayor Poulson. 
HOPKINS: Poulson. 

BEAVERS: We went to Washington, and we were together quite 
a bit, and we just talked things out. And he let his hair 
down, and I let mine down. [laughter] We became the best 
of friends, it was real — He did all he could do to promote 
the program, and he was due the credit. He appointed me to 
the Dodger committee [Mayor's Committee on Major League 
Baseball]. Major League Baseball Committee, it was called, 
of course we didn't know about the Dodgers, who it would 
be, and I served — It was his appointment, he appointed me 
to his committee, and I served on that committee, and I 
served on some other committees that he appointed. 
HOPKINS: What was the function of this baseball committee 
— or major league baseball committee? Obviously, to bring 
a major league baseball team to Los Angeles — 
BEAVERS: That's right. 

HOPKINS: How did you go about that? What functions did 
the committee — ? 



164 



BEAVERS: Well, the first thing, we had to get approval of 
the voters on the contract, that was the first thing. That 
was a big hurdle. Then, next thing was of course — Well, 
it wasn't the next thing, because before we did that we had 
negotiated this deal with the Dodgers, but it couldn't 
become legal until the voters acted. Then after that, why, 
we went ahead and did the things necessary to complete the 
negotiations. And after that there was some other property 
involved, in which these, oh, the banks and hotel, that 
Bonaventure Hotel, and other properties that were a part of 
that parcel. 

HOPKINS: Part of the Chavez Ravine parcel? 
BEAVERS: Yes. 

HOPKINS: I see. You mean you took actions, or the com- 
mittee [took] actions on that? 

BEAVERS: Well, we made that property available. Then, 
well let's see, with the housing authorities, that just 
about — I'm trying to find the dividing line as to what 
Poulson did and what would come within the scope of the 
housing authority, and then some other things that were not 
in the scope of the housing authority. 

There was another committee that he appointed me to — 
HOPKINS: Mayor Poulson? 

BEAVERS: Yes. That was a recreation committee that had to 
do with finding, enlarging the program for the zoo. The 



165 



Los Angeles Zoo. As we went to San Diego and checked over 

their operation, that was a remarkable zoo operation they 

have down there, the wild animals and all. And we worked 

on a committee and it started an expansion of the Los 

Angeles Zoo. 

HOPKINS: What was that committee called? Do you remember 

offhand? 

BEAVERS: It was called the Los Angeles Recreation and the 

Zoo, I guess, because — I don't know what they called that 

committee . 

HOPKINS: I notice on your biographical data sheet you have 

dated here, would this be the Mayor's Citizen Committee to 

Study Zoological Problems, is that it? 

BEAVERS: Yes, that was it. 

HOPKINS: Oh, good. Mr. Beavers, you were on this baseball 

committee for how many years? Or what were the dates on 

that? Do you recall? 

BEAVERS: Are they indicated in the biographical data? 

HOPKINS: No. 

BEAVERS: Well, I think that was '56, and probably lasted a 

couple of years, maybe '56 to '58. 

HOPKINS: Do you think the fact that you were chairman of 

the L.A. Housing Authority had anything to do with your 

appointment on this committee, the baseball committee, or 

was that divorced from that idea? 



166 



BEAVERS: Well, of course, now, I don't know. That's a 
matter of speculation, I don't know. I don't know — I 
think perhaps I would have been on the committee anyway, 
but that's something that I'd speculate on. I was chairman 
and I was appointed. [laughter] 

HOPKINS: Those are the facts, then. Were you a baseball 
enthusiast during those times? 
BEAVERS: Oh, yes. 

HOPKINS: Very good, just one more question here concerning 
this. I wasn't clear on the idea that the Chavez Ravine 
parcel and land was somehow connected with the area that 
now the Bonaventure Hotel occupies. That's all part of the 
same land? How is that connected? 

BEAVERS: Well, it's part of the same land. All of that 
property up there, it was — That wasn't known as Chavez 
Ravine, but it was adjacent to that, and it was under the 
housing authorities. It was included in the housing author- 
ities. Oh, that ran right into the land that was con- 
trolled by the Los Angeles Housing Redevelopment Program 
[Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Program]. 
HOPKINS: Which is different? 
BEAVERS: Yes. 
HOPKINS: OK. 

BEAVERS: But, there was a part of the land that was 
connected with Chavez Ravine, and it came right on up and 



167 



it was adjacent to this other property that was under the 
operations of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment 
Program. 

HOPKINS: Now, the Los Angeles County Redevelopment Associ- 
ation, was that a public — was that public land too? 
BEAVERS : Yes . 

HOPKINS: It belonged to the city, or to the state? 
BEAVERS: Well, it belonged to — A part of the land, as you 
say, was a part of the same parcel of the Chavez Ravine, 
and then the other part was the Los Angeles Community 
Development Program, and we cooperated with the Community 
Redevelopment Program, and as I recall, some other land 
that we could not use, and we had some kind of an agree- 
ment, I think. I did something with the community re- 
development forces that enabled them to go ahead with their 
progrcim, which included putting up those — some high-rise 
buildings . 

HOPKINS: Is Bunker Hill a part of that operation? 
BEAVERS: Yes, yes. 

HOPKINS: I see. Bunker Hill, and the Bonaventure, they're 
owned by private enterprise, aren't they? 

BEAVERS: Yes. But they, you see, the community redevelop- 
ment program is a different type of program from public 
housing, so under their guidance the private industry could 



16 8 



develop property, and that's quite independent of the 
public housing. 

HOPKIMS: I see. And this group, the community redevelop- 
ment program, they would be more in favor of private or 
individual development, wouldn't they? I mean that's the 
nature of their business, I mean of that operation? 
BEAVERS: Oh, yes. 

HOPKINS: Was it legal for — I'm sure it was because it was 
done, but were there any problems with shifting this land 
for development by private enterprise? 
BEAVERS: No, no, no problem there. 

HOPKINS: OK, very good. I think that about does it for 
the housing authority. Before we close I'd just like to 
ask you a couple more important questions concerning some 
civic organizations. Of course, we know that you were, for 
ten years, the financial secretary for the National Associ- 
ation for the Advancement of Colored People, can you tell 
us about your involvement with the NAACP. When did you 
first join? 

BEAVERS: Oh, Lord. I was with the NAACP since I was, ever 
since I reached my maturity. [laughter] Yes, let's see, 
maybe, I don't think you mean that. You don't mean when I 
joined, when I first joined? 

HOPKINS: Well, let's see, I think the Los Angeles Branch 
was begun in, what, 1915 or so in Los Angeles, if I'm not 



169 



mistaken, and did you have anything to do with the initia- 
tion of the organization in this town? 

BEAVERS: No, I just became a member. I probably became a 
member when they started. But I know definitely I was a 
member in 1920, '21, and I think I have-- Let me see, was 
there anything in my biographical data that would indicate? 
HOPKINS: I didn't see the date, but I guess what we're 
really after is when you became an active member. Maybe 
you were an active member from the beginning. I mean in 
terms of attending meetings and participating in the 
organization. If you recall. 

BEAVERS: Well, let's see, I have a way of arriving at it, 
I think, here. [tape recorder turned off] I became active 
in the Los Angeles chapter~I guess I became active around 
about 1940, yes. 

HOPKINS: When were you the financial secretary? 
BEAVERS: What? 

HOPKINS: I see that you were the financial secretary, do 
you remember those years at all? I don't see them on the 
data sheet. [tape recorder turned off] 

BEAVERS: I was a member of the Grand Jury in 1949, and I 
must have been a member in about the early forties, in 
about 1940, because I was president of the Urban League, 
they don't get that [on the data sheet] either, do they? 



170 



HOPKINS: We can come back to the dates, but can you tell 

us something about the — 

BEAVERS: Chairman of the Urban League home building and 

finance committee, 1951. Well, before that I was financial 

secretary of the NAACP. What was that you were going to 

ask? 

HOPKINS: OK. Are there any significant events that you 

can relate to us about the NAACP in Los Angeles, where you 

were particularly involved? 

BEAVERS: Oh, I remember when Dr. [Henry Claude] Hudson was 

arrested for — He was arrested — They made a case of it 

down in Santa Monica, in the beach. No, not in Santa 

Monica, it was in another place. 

HOPKINS: Redondo Beach? 

BEAVERS: Manhattan. 

HOPKINS: Oh, Manhattan Beach, that's right. 

BEAVERS: He was involved in a case there. He pointed up 

the rights of black citizens to bathe in the Pacific Ocean 

[laughter], and I was financial secretary of the NAACP 

under his administration, he was president, and those 

years, that was during — 

HOPKINS: That would have been in the early twenties — the 

1920s, when he was arrested. I discussed that with him 

once, and I think he said it was 1923 or '24 when he was 

arrested for bathing in Manhattan Beach. So you were 



171 



perhaps financial secretary at least during those years, 
[tape recorder turned off] 

BEAVERS: We organized the Golden State in '25, '24, yes, I 
was financial secretary of the NAACP in the twenties, in 
the early 1920s. It's a shame we don't have a — At least 
when you're doing things like this and you don't have any 
idea of it. I was the secretary of the NAACP for ten 
years, and it doesn't say what ten. 

HOPKINS: When Dr. Hudson was arrested, can you remember 
some of the feelings in the community at that time? 
BEAVERS: Yes, the feelings were very high, and of course, 
there were a smaller number of Negroes, but the feelings 
ran very high then. It was something else that happened 
there, too. Oh, yes, I remember, but I don't know the year 
of this, but I went with Tom Griffith down to the, well, I 
guess to the police department, yes, to protest against the 
arrest of a member of our group. And as a member of our 
group, I mean race, we didn't know anything about the guy. 
We went down there and raved hard about police brutality, 
and come to find out this guy had a record as long as an 
arm, he had been in — committed all kinds of crimes. 
HOPKINS: Oh, and you had gone to help him. 
BEAVERS: And we had gone down there on police brutality. 
I never was so embarrassed, and this man, the clerk we were 



172 



dealing with, he thought I was a lawyer, and Tom Griffith 
was the lawyer. 

HOPKINS: Tom Griffith was the lawyer. 
BEAVERS: Tom Griffith. 
HOPKINS: Griffith. Was he black? 
BEAVERS: Yes, he's a retired judge. 
HOPKINS: Oh, oh, I didn't know him. 

BEAVERS: And then to find out, we were — I don't know what 
this Negro had done, and all, and then just — And there was 
no way to put any credit on what he had said, we just had 
to get on out of there. But that showed, to me it showed 
the importance of two things. Number one, all — They had a 
special [slogan] about "Black is Beautiful." Black can be 
beautiful, and black can be very ugly, you see. And you 
can't go just on the color of skin, and because somebody 
said they picked on me because of my race, isn't neces- 
sarily true. You have to — And the next factor is first 
you, before you go protesting, get your facts, get your 
facts, because before you make a decision you've got to 
have the facts on both sides. Facts don't necessarily have 
to agree with you, but you have to take the facts as they 
are. That's one thing that we should keep in mind in our 
protest. We can't go all haywire and start blaming people 
and causing them trouble when we haven't got the factual 
data to show what we are talking about is true. We can't 



173 



make a decision ourselves that's worth anything if we don't 
first get some facts, and I heard somebody say that, that 
wherever there's an argument, and you see two people 
arguing, there's one thing that's sure. That one of them 
is — neither of them is right. The truth is somewhere 
between them. [laughter] 
HOPKINS: That's very good. 

BEAVERS: There are three sides to every question: There's 
my side of it, the other fellow's side of it, and then the 
truth of it, somewhere in the middle. 
HOPKINS: Somewhere in the middle. 



174 



TAPE NUMBER: VIII, SIDE ONE 
JULY 8, 1982 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, let's continue with our discussion 
of your illustrious and active participation in civic 
affairs. We left off last time with the NAACP , and we 
noticed today, we'd like to start with your involvement 
with the YMCA. Can you shed some light on your activities 
with the YMCA? 

BEAVERS: Well, some years ago, I was very active in the 
Twenty-eighth Street YMCA. I was on their board of direc- 
tors and I also served on the Los Angeles metropolitan 
board of directors. 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, is it true that for some period 
during the twenties, and the thirties, and maybe even 
later, that blacks were not allowed to join the metro- 
politan YMCA? 

BEAVERS: Well, I don't have any recollection of such [an] 
ironclad rule, but I do know that in the very nature of 
things that Negroes did not participate with whites, but I 
don't recall any discriminatory policies such as you've 
suggested. 

HOPKINS: OK. Do you have any idea of when the Twenty- 
eighth Street "Y" was organized? 



175 



BEAVERS: Goodness, that's— I don't remember the year, but 
it was in the early days, back in the, oh, back; in the 
twenties I believe. You might get a good lead to that on 
the construction of their building on Twenty-eighth Street. 
That was a big thing at the time, and I'm sorry, but I 
don't remember the year. I think that it would be easier 
for you to get that information though, as to the director, 
the year, and pinpoint it. 

HOPKINS: Sure, yes, we can get that. I guess what I'm 
driving at is, do you know why blacks organized a YMCA of 
their own? As you can recall? 

BEAVERS: Well, as I can recall there was need for a YMCA 
in our community, and the very — the segregated pattern that 
is generally followed in large cities, as it developed, 
naturally there was a need for that facility in our own 

community, because it would do more good in the community 
in which the people lived than it would in some other area 

of the city. At that time the major portion of the popu- 
lation was on the east side of Los Angeles, which is now 

more the central part of the city, and there was just a 

need for that facility in the community in which the Negro 

children lived. 

HOPKINS: Now, as I recall reading, that actually Paul 

Williams was the architect for the Twenty-eighth Street 



176 



YMCA, and it must have been a costly building. How was it 
funded? Was it a city operation or what? 
BEAVERS: Well, the metropolitan board helped to finance 
it. It was, of course, like all other YMCA projects, they 
had a very fine and cooperative secretary at the Central 
"Y," the Metropolitan "Y, " and naturally they had an 
interest in helping to fund and finance the one for our 
community. 

HOPKINS: Now during the 1920s there were still a large 
number of whites living on the east side of Los Angeles. 
Did whites frequent this "Y," as you can recall, when it 
was first built? 

BEAVERS: Oh, yes. There was never any — I don't recall 
any — bars against whites participating with the blacks. I 
recall that there was always a good spirit between the YMCA 
kids and, in fact, the YMCA sponsored integrated activity. 
The YMCA was one of the forces used to break down the 
barriers of racial discrimination and segregation, so they 
didn't take a lead in promoting segregation. 
HOPKINS: OK. Also, in reading back in newspapers during 
the twenties and the thirties, we find that the YMCA seemed 
to have been a focal point, or a focus of a lot of com- 
munity activities, whereas today it doesn't seem to hold 
the same part in the community. Do you have any thoughts 
on that as to why, if it is true? 



177 



BEAVERS: I don't think that is true. For example we have 
a YMCA in this community, in the Crenshaw area, and we 
still have the YMCA on Twenty-eighth Street, and more and 
more the YMCA has tended to encourage the integrated 
activity. We take the YMCA camp program, for example. 
They go to camp, and there's no discrimination. They try 
to act as a force against that kind of thing rather than 
promote it. 

HOPKINS: OK, Now, I understand that you became a member 
of the board of directors for the general Los Angeles metro- 
politan YMCA. 

BEAVERS: Yes, that is true. I served, I don't know how 
many terms, at least two terms on the metropolitan board. 
HOPKINS: Do you know roughly what time that was — what 
period of time that was? 

BEAVERS: Oh, I'd have to go back to the — I'm hazy on the 
years. I don't know if it was — 

HOPKINS: So was it after World War II or before World War 
II? 

BEAVERS: I think it was — World War II was in the forties, 
wasn't it? 
HOPKINS: Yes. 

BEAVERS: Yes. It seems to me it was before World War II. 
It didn't have to be, it could have been later, but I wish 



178 



I'd known that you wanted the years, then I could have 
maybe — 

HOPKINS: Yes, really, I never mean to pinpoint you on the 
years, I guess I'm always kind of looking for just the 
general time period, but we can touch upon that. It won't 
be difficult to find it. 

OK, and another very important civic organization that 
you were involved in was the Los Angeles Urban League. 
BEAVERS: Yes, I was very active in the Los Angeles Urban 
League, I served on several committees, and I was a member 
of the board of directors, and I served two three-year 
terms on the board, and one three-year term as president of 
the Los Angeles board. And I served also on the national 
Urban League board, one term for three years. 
HOPKINS: During your term as president were there any out- 
standing events that occurred that you can recall, that 
you'd like to share with us? 

BEAVERS: Well, during that time, let's see, Lester Granger 
was the executive for the national Urban League, and I 
worked with him very closely, and he was a very fine man. 
He was succeeded by Whitney Young, and I also worked with 
Whitney very closely, and during that time we had our 
office on — The office of the Urban League was on Central 
Avenue, oh, yes, in the, I think it was the 3800 block, 
right across from what is the city health bureau in that 



179 



area. City health facility. The accomplishments of the 
board revolved around its yearly promotion of race rela- 
tions in giving awards to the outstanding corporation for 
employment, and also to sports organizations like football 
and baseball, and that was — it was during that time that we 
developed the training program, which is a very important 
part of Urban League activities, training of people for 
jobs. One of the weaknesses that we've had for a long time 
has been the lack of qualified, real qualified applicants 
for high class jobs, and the Urban League focused on that 
program, on a training program, and housing. Let's see, 
there was housing, employment training, and general welfare 
of the people in the black community. 

HOPKINS: Was there any conflict between the national Urban 
League and the Los Angeles Urban League over the years that 
you can remember? That is any serious conflict in terms of 
policy? 

BEAVERS: No, no conflict between the local chapter and the 
national chapter. There was — There was some, well, I 
wouldn't call it a conflict, but the national was inter- 
ested in getting more help from the Hollywood community. 
Because at that time Hollywood was in its heyday, and it 
was — I remember having conferences with Lester Granger on 
the matter of getting more help from the Hollywood com- 
munity on getting jobs and giving support to the national 



180 



program. But that wasn't a conflict, that was just an 
added interest. 

HOPKINS: Was that also a concern of the NAACP , to try to 
attract Hollywood stars to participate or to help the 
NAACP? 

BEAVERS: Yes, the NAACP had, they had, it developed into 
somewhat of a conflict, because the national office — In 
fact there was an attempt made to have a Hollywood branch 
of the NAACP, and it really developed into the Hollywood 
group taking over the — Well, they didn't take it over, but 
they focused on the life membership and the legal defense 
fund, and they focused on the legal defense for the NAACP, 
and I noticed just recently in the last convention, they 
had a real — that was the focus of a real fight between — 
within — the agency. I don't know what would be the exact 
outcome of it, but it seems that there is a breaking of 
relations there. They are going to make some changes, and 
I noticed in the executive director [Benjamin Lawson] 
Hooks ' s remarks on the program "Face the Nation," he 
indicated that there was no animosity involved, just a 
matter of making sure that the people in Hollywood and 
elsewhere would recognize the real problems of employment, 
and [that] the programs that were intended for the poor 
were being affected by the cutbacks under the present 
administration, and that the NAACP was determined to have 



181 



this money coming direct to it, and not going through other 
hands, and maybe not serving the purpose for which it was 
given. So I don't know how that's going to work out, but 
it's — Seemingly he has a good point, and he's urging that 
the programs that the NAACP is engaged in are due to have 
support and get the same recognition as to tax deduction as 
other programs, and that I think they've reached an agree- 
ment to go their separate ways, I don't know to what 
extent, but there is some type of agreement being worked 
out on that now. 

HOPKINS: Now, when you say go — Who would go their separ- 
ate ways? 

BEAVERS: The Hollywood group that was — 
HOPKINS: The Hollywood NAACP? 

BEAVERS: It was the Hollywood division for the NAACP Legal 
Defense Fund, it was called. And there was some contention 
about that money being used by the NAACP, and who would 
have control and all that. 

HOPKINS: I see. Whether it would be a local control or 
national control? 

BEAVERS: Well, I really don't know, because I'm not active 
in the management of it now, and I'm only going by what I 
heard on this TV show. 

HOPKINS: OK, that's fair enough. Now, during the twen- 
ties, maybe the thirties, there was a case where the NAACP, 



182 



the national branch, was trying to get the Los Angeles 
branch to get movie stars like Mae West to hire blacks as 
servants or in whatever capacity. Were you aware of that, 
or do you remember that? 

BEAVERS: No, I don't remember any specifics on that. Of 
course, the NAACP program is so broad that it would include 
any employer who had control over employment over a large 
number of people. They would want them to include in their 
employment program the people of all races, in particular 
blacks. 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, you've worked closely with the NAACP 
and Urban League in Los Angeles chapters, and so you've 
been with the growth to some degree of these two organiza- 
tions. Were there jealousies between these two organiza- 
tions over time, or have they pretty much worked in harmony 
as far as you can see? 

BEAVERS: They've been very much in harmony. So far as I 
know, they have worked in harmony through the years, 
because while the Urban League was interested in getting 
help by more employment and better housing and those kind 
of things, and the Urban League, they worked more from a 
social and charitable viewpoint. And the NAACP, they work 
through a legal and, not only legal, but what's the word I 
want to use? Legal, and active support from major corpora- 
tions, and affirmative action in employment, and that kind 



183 



of thing, and they worked through — The NAACP of course, 
has to work through the legislative and political and 
legal, through those forces. They are not confined to the 
social and the economic boundaries that the Urban League is 
under. You see, the Urban League qualifies as a social 
service organization. NAACP is a protest organization, and 
it is free to use whatever methods that are legitimate that 
they can use to focus attention on these same problems. So 
there's been no, no— I don't think there has been any 
jealousy, competitiveness on the part of the two branches 
in Los Angeles . 

HOPKINS: OK. Just another question here along these 
lines. Now during the sixties, of course, there was a lot 
of discussion among militant blacks that the NAACP was 
conservative and established in the status quo. Now, I'm 
not talking about the sixties, but when you think back 
during the 1920s, thirties, and into the forties, what 
kinds of people were members of the NAACP? I mean, how 
were you perceived by the community at large if you were a 
member of the NAACP in Los Angeles? 

BEAVERS: Well, I worked in both organizations, and I 
didn't see any — I didn't see them as competitors. 
HOPKINS: Oh, I'm sorry, I'm not trying to — I'm not 
comparing NAACP and the Urban League now. I meant when you 
look at Los Angeles, and you look at the black community in 



184 



Los Angeles as a whole, if you were a member of the NAACP 
were you considered to be, in the twenties and thirties, 
were you considered to be a radical, a troublemaker, or 
were you considered to be just trying to help your race? 
Do you see what I'm driving at? 

BEAVERS: Well, I would say that I considered it as trying 
to not only help the race, but help the country. I felt 
that the segregation, and discrimination and racial segrega- 
tion and discrimination was — it was a force that was damag- 
ing to the whole nation. It wasn't just a black problem, 
or — It was just as much a white problem as it was a black 
problem, because it was injurious to the real welfare of 
the nation. As far back as slavery time they recognized 
that you couldn't advance a nation by keeping the races 
separated, that racism was a detrimental force, and that 
was recognized even back in the early days. So I think 
that still holds, that when you are fighting for your 
rights as American citizens, the racism is a detrimental 
force. 

HOPKINS: So you perceived your participation in the NAACP 
as helping not only blacks, but also the country as a 
whole. And many liberal whites saw that as well. Were 
there others who saw it otherwise? I know others did, but 
in Los Angeles among the black community, was it pretty 
well thought of as a positive group or as a negative group? 



185 



BEAVERS: Oh, it was positive. 
HOPKINS: OK. 

BEAVERS: Of course there are always some people who will 
go to extremes and, for example, if we have different 
ideas, now, we want to improve race relations. Well, now 
some want to improve by — They think they are improving by 
engaging in racism themselves, and being violent, and I 
think that Martin Luther King's [Jr.] idea was different 
and it swept the nation. You know, it showed that you 
didn't have to be violent to accomplish these things, and 
when you protest you can have a legal protest and stay 
within the bounds of reason, and then you can have another 
protest and just go to the extreme, and burning, and kil- 
ling, and that isn't a positive approach. 
HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, we'd like to leave then the civic 
organizations now, and we've been — I've been trying to 
solicit your opinions and perceptions of events over time. 
I'd like to ask you a few questions in that line, just your 
own opinions and impressions. 

How do you perceive the church in the black community 
today? 

BEAVERS: I think the church is a real vital force and 
should be recognized as such. I have spent all my life — I 
of course, I was fortunate to have good Christian parents, 
and I think that the church still is a vital force in the 



186 



community, a vital force for good. And I think that all 
organizations of course have their weaknesses, and there 
are some good things that they do and there's some — Wall, 
let me put it this way, in all organizations you'll find 
there are some people who are true to the principles and 
work hard to accomplish the programs of the organization, 
and then there are others who have their names on the 
books, but they are not actually involved in pushing the 
program. There's always some who are just hangers-on, and 
they are not motivated by real religious principles, or the 
principles of their organization. What I'm trying to say 
is that there are some good ministers, and some poor 
ministers and just because a man is a minister doesn't 
necessarily make him right. That isn't the point. But the 
minister who takes seriously his obligation as a minister 
to lead, and to try and enhance the church and build his 
church on a strong foundation, that is a good minister. 
Now, there are other ministers who try to make believe, and 
use their offices in ways that are really detrimental to 
the organization. You have that kind of separation in all 
organizations, that's human, but it's up to — I think in 
the final analysis the man who is really conscientious and 
is qualified for his job as a minister, and tries to use 
his talents and his opportunities to promote good and to 
spread the gospel of Christ, that's the minister that's 



187 



running the best service to the community. I think that 
was the philosophy expressed by Benjamin Mays. Benjamin 
Mays, he's retired now, but I think he's president emeritus 
of the, oh, the church, no, the college. President Mays 
who was president of — 
HOPKINS: Morehouse? 

BEAVERS: — Morehouse [College]. Benjamin Mays was 
president of Morehouse. I heard him say, in accepting an 
award, that we are here, that God placed us here to do two 
things: serve God and serve our fellow man. I think that 
philosophy expresses the service that is expected of a 
minister and an educator. That he is not only to serve 
God, but he is to serve his fellow man, and if he looks 
upon his obligations in that manner, he won't go wrong, and 
he will not allow himself to be used for political pur- 
poses, and used to help promote programs that are not in 
the best interest of the people. And I think that philo- 
sophy expresses what I have in mind about the good and the 
bad, and particularly among the ministers. This applies to 
educators, too. 

HOPKINS: OK, when you think back to growing up in Los 
Angeles, and going to church, do you think that the church 
exerts as great an influence today on youth as it did then 
when you were growing up? I know we're only speculating, 
but it's important. 



188 



BEAVERS: Well, I don't know. I don't think it does for 
this reason. Society is — the society of today is weaker in 
some respects along that line, because the home of today is 
not like the home of yesteryears. There's been a — We have 
developed a permissive society, and much of it is due to 
the weakness that we find at home, that so many — Well, 
take the divorce rate, there's so many families where the 
woman is the sole head of the family. And so there have 
been so many divorces, and women have been forced [to] be- 
come a wage earner, and the woman can't possibly do her job 
as a mother and do, that is the average woman, can't do the 
job that needs to be done at home and at the same time be 
responsible for earning a living for the family. Of 
course, I think black women in particular are due a lot of 
credit for what they have done under the circumstances, but 
not only is it true of black women, this is true of white 
women too, to a certain extent. Just as has been pointed 
out, the women, because of social conditions that we have 
today there are more women having responsibility, financial 
responsibility, for the home than at any other time in our 
history. With that kind of situation there's bound to be a 
decline, and so I believe that we have to say that because 
of these conditions that it's very questionable as to 
whether or not the church has the same influence or has the 
same power in influencing youth as it had years ago. 



189 



TAPE NUMBER: VIII, SIDE TWO 
JULY 8, 1982 

BEAVERS: I'm not an expert in this field at all, but 
you're asking me for my opinion, and that's my opinion for 
what it's worth. 

HOPKINS: OK, thank you. Along these same lines, comparing 
the past with the present, when you think about the black 
community the way it was in the 1920s, and you think about 
the way it is today, do you think — Was there a greater 
sense of community, well, a sense of community? Let me see 
how that strikes you. 
BEAVERS: A sense of community? 

HOPKINS: That is, a sense of helping each other to pull 
together to improve the group as a whole, or were people 
just as individual as they are today, or — 

BEAVERS: Oh, I think that all of the work that's been done 
by the church, and such organizations as the NAACP and the 
Urban League, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 
I think that all of these things have developed an aware- 
ness, and I believe that we are much better off today than 
we were. For example, the work, the accomplishment of the 
civil rights program, I believe that a tremendous good was 
done by the adoption of the civil rights program, and 
what's more the implementation of the program. You can 



190 



look at the number of political leaders, the number of 
elected officers that we have now, and we didn't have then, 
and the exercising of voting rights. Of course, we're 
still working on — We have a long way to go, but I think 
those conditions far outweigh what has happened in the 
past. In other words, I think we're much better off today 
than we were then, politically and socially, and in the 
field of religion. I think we've made progress. 
HOPKINS: I know these are rather vague questions, but 
again they mean something in the larger scope of this 
project, and so I ask you — When we talk about leadership 
in the twenties and compare that with today, we talk about 
black leadership, have the goals of the leaders changed? I 
mean, I know we're dealing with a different environment, 
but can you see a marked difference in the kinds of leaders 
that we have in the black community today as opposed to in 
the earlier periods? 

BEAVERS: Oh, yes. Yes, I think — Well, the previous 
comment I made about the progress made would be indicative 
of the same picture, the fact that we have gone this far 
and accomplished as much as we have in the last twenty 
years, that in itself says something for the leadership, 
because these things wouldn't just happen. I think the — 
Let's take, for example, a little something that's hap- 
pened. When the Southern Christian Leadership Conference 



191 



was — When they were arresting the blacks and putting them 
in jail, the NAACP had money and was bailing them out as 
fast as they put them in, you see. So, these organizations 
working together, I think they are due a lot of credit. 
The NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 
and the Urban League, they worked together, and accom- 
plished a tremendous amount. And without their working 
together, and demonstrating to the American public that 
they were together we wouldn't have had the civil rights 
program and the affirmative action in employment and all of 
that, which has made for a better life. 

Now, of course, we are hard pressed under the present 
administration, and the cutbacks in a number of the pro- 
grams and all, and of course, now is the time when we've 
got to work together to bring some form of order out of 
this chaos that we are in. We've got to continue to work, 
there's no letup, we've got to continue to work on these 
same problems. And as has been brought out so many times, 
the impact is not just on the blacks, but it is on the poor 
whites. There are more poor whites suffering under this 
reduced program than there are blacks. So it isn't just 
blacks, but it is the poor people, and the ones who are 
less able, with low income, and those that are without 
employment, the unemployment keeps going up and up, and 
that hurts the whole nation. We've got to find a solution 



192 



to these problems, and it is going to take a long time, 
because while we have a whole lot of people employed, a 
much larger number of people employed than we have unem- 
ployed, but that unemployment is going to continue to rise 
unless something is done about it. 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, what is your political affiliation? 
Would you mind telling us? 

BEAVERS: Well, my — I'm a registered Republican but I 
don't vote that way. I think there has to be somebody on 
the other side to try to make the balance. Of course, I 
haven't changed my registration, and I don't intend to, but 
I vote for the people that I think are the best candidates. 
I haven't voted — I didn't vote for [Ronald W. ] Reagan, and 
I did vote for [Lyndon B. ] Johnson. I know I voted for 
[John P.] Kennedy, and then I voted for Johnson. Did 
Johnson run? Yes. 
HOPKINS: Yes. 

BEAVERS: I voted for Johnson. That way, I don't think all 
of the right and justice is in any one party. 
HOPKINS: During the — Well, let's see, I think it was in 
1928, I was reading in the L.A. Times that — The L.A. Times 
had an article in 1928 that blacks had begun to reconsider 
whether they should support the Republican party, because 
they felt the Republican party wasn't being fair to blacks 
down the line. Can you comment on the moods of blacks in 



193 



Los Angeles during the twenties, and the thirties in terms 
of what was that article talking about. Not that you read 
the article, but you must have been — 
BEAVERS: You say in the twenties? 

HOPKINS: Yes, it was 1928 in fact. I guess [Herbert C] 
Hoover was still the president. 

BEAVERS: Oh, well that was the beginning, I think, of 
Negroes turning to the Democratic party, because when 
[Franklin] Delano Roosevelt was elected, why, his program 
attracted, oh, the poor and the disadvantaged, and that 
included the blacks. And there was a movement to start it 
then, and from that time on I think that blacks have been 
more Democratic. In fact the overwhelming majority of 
blacks belong to the Democratic party, there's no question 
about that. And those who don't belong vote with them. 
HOPKINS: OK. So, you mentioned earlier that you had 
remained a member of the Republican party in order to 
create a balance. Could you explain that? 

BEAVERS: Well, I don't mean that, to create a balance, but 
I mean that we ought to have some understanding about 
what's happening on the other side. See, I get these 
letters and all from the Reagan administration, and I know 
exactly what their program is, and I think that's impor- 
tant. Of course, I'm not able to be active out there on 
the front lines now, so it's just as well to be able to get 



194 



information and be able to convey it to members of the 
other party. 

HOPKINS: Again, I'd like to stretch your memory. When you 
think back even before Roosevelt was elected, and you were 
involved in a number of civic organizations and you were 
involved in the business world there must have been friends 
who had begun to talk about, or criticizing the Republican 
party. Do you remember, was that the case? Or what was 
the attitude of your friends, the circles you were in, 
concerning the Republican party before? 
BEAVERS: You say before Roosevelt? 
HOPKINS: Yes. 

BEAVERS: Well, you're going back down to — No, he wasn't 
much — The Republicans, you see, they had a good record. 
Of course, the Republicans, the big mistake made by the 
Republican party, they allowed the southern Democrats to 
lead them, and they were really asleep as to the needs of 
the blacks and the poor and disadvantaged. See, here's 
what happened, in those days, the blacks controlled abso- 
lutely the Democratic party — I mean the whites, the 
southern whites, they absolutely controlled the Democratic 
party. Every southern state then was Democrat, Democrat. 
And they built up a seniority in the Senate and in the 
House, all of the committees were chaired by, most of the 
important committees were chaired by white southerners. 



195 



Now, you see, when the whites, when the southern whites 
disenfranchised the Negroes, the whites in other areas of 
the country didn't realize that they were being disenfran- 
chised too. That disenfranchise was working against them, 
because it enabled them to build up a seniority at the 
expense of the Negro vote, they were able to build up a 
seniority and control all the important committees in the 
House and the Senate in Congress. So the Republicans slept 
at the switch there, they didn't recognize that, and I 
don't know whether they still recognize it today. Bur I've 
had occasion to direct their attention to that on several 
occasions, and of course you see what happened now. Lyndon 
Johnson said in his speech at Howard University that he 
felt that if the Negro was able to vote he could help 
himself, he was in a position to help himself. And they've 
been doing that. You see all these mayors in big cities, 
there are so many mayors, and sheriffs, and councilmen, the 
whole bit. There's more black elected officers now than 
you've ever had. They begin to help themselves. And they 
can do more of it if they'll just register and vote. 

There are three or four things that we need to do, and 
need it bad: Number one, we need for our young people to 
get an education, to be fairly prepared, to be able to, and 
qualify, to hold a decent job. Two, we need to register 
and vote, use our vote. Number three, we need to be good 



196 



citizens. We have fought for first-class citizenship, we 
need to be first-class citizens. Stop all this crime and 
dope and all that. See we have a big job to do, if we just 
do it. Those are three important things that we need to be 
doing. 

HOPKINS: One final question in this vein of questions. 
Now, again, before World War II, before the forties, 
through the twenties and the thirties, again in your role 
as an activist, as a civic leader, as a businessman, you 
traveled to other cities throughout the country, like 
Washington, D.C, and so you've had an opportunity to see 
other blacks live in these other major cities. How would 
you compare the black communities in these other major 
cities with that of Los Angeles? 

BEAVERS: They are on the same pattern. They follow the 
same pattern there. You take, in every major city, you 
have the same movement of population, the whites moving 
out, and the blacks moving in, and that same thing has 
happened over and over again in all these big cities. 
HOPKINS: Did you see Los Angeles as being a better place 
to live for blacks? 

BEAVERS: Oh, yes. Well, it's a better place. First of 
all because the climate helps, it doesn't take you as much 
to live here. The seasons are not so severe. Most of the 
country is either real hot or real cold. And there's very 



197 



little time where you have just nice days like we have now, 

and that's a plus for the poor. You don't have to have as 

much heat, it doesn't cost you as much to live through the 

winter season. 

HOPKINS: What about racial attitudes? Now, I'm not 

talking about today or in the sixties, but in the thirties 

— twenties and the thirties, did it seem like this was a 

better place to live for blacks in the — 

BEAVERS: Oh, yes. 

HOPKINS: Racially speaking? 

BEAVERS: Yes, definitely it was a better place, because 

they had better opportunities. 

HOPKINS: There was a large influx of blacks that came to 

Los Angeles after World War I, just like there was a large 

influx of blacks that came to Los Angeles after World War 

II. 

BEAVERS: And there was a large influx of whites that came 

too. 

HOPKINS: And, there was a large influx of whites that came 

too. 

BEAVERS: They came from the same places. 

HOPKINS: Same places, OK. [laughter] 

When you think about the — we're talking about the 
blacks at this point — did there seem to be a difference in 



198 



the kinds of blacks in terms of skills, education that came 
in the twenties versus the forties? Did you get a — 
BEAVERS: This is the forties? 

HOPKINS: Yes. When you remember — OK, you were here in 
the twenties, and you saw these blacks moving into Los 
Angeles and you saw them try to fit into Los Angeles, and 
then you saw the same thing happening again in the forties, 
did you think to yourself, "God, these people aren't 
ready," or "They are ready," or "They're better prepared 
than the people that came in the twenties," at all? 
BEAVERS: No, I didn't get that impression. I think one 
thing about it is that when people were ready to move from 
the South to come out West, we were getting the best of the 
lot, because it took a certain amount of income and vision 
to be able to do that, to be able to move so far west and 
start over again. And another thing, the people who came 
out here in those days, they were looking for opportunity. 
They moved from places where they didn't have opportunity 
and they were looking for opportunities to work and to be a 
part of the community. So I don't know that I can say that 
there was so much a difference. 

HOPKINS: OK, then the final questions in closing are on a 
personal note. I know you mentioned that in 1936, your 
first wife died? Is that true? 
BEAVERS : No . 



199 



HOPKINS 
BEAVERS 
HOPKINS 
please? 
BEAVERS 
HOPKINS 
BEAVERS 
HOPKINS 
BEAVERS 



No. I'm sorry. 

She died in '31. 

Excuse me, 1931, your wife — Her name again 



Her name was Willie Mae, Willie Mae. 

Then you remarried in what year? 

'36. 

1936. 

For five years I was free and unencumbered, 
[laughter] I really felt when I lost my first wife, I 
thought there just were no more like her, and I just didn't 
think about marrying. Then in the summer of '36, in August 
of '36, a young lady came out here with her cousin, and I 
went to accommodate a friend, I was going with him, he 
had — He was going with my wife's cousin and he knew her, 
and he was telling me about this cousin, and I went out on 
a blind date, and I met this Lola Lillian Cunningham, and 
that was about the second week in August, and somehow I got 
tangled up in a whirlwind courtship, and on the 5th of 
September we were married. And we've been married ever 
since. She's a wonderful wife. She's not in good health 
now, and neither am I, so — 
HOPKINS: Can you tell me something of her background? 



200 



BEAVERS: Well, she was a schoolteacher. In fact, she had 

just received her master's when she came out here, and she 

was resting up from the ordeal. 

HOPKINS: When did she come here? When did she come to Los 

Angeles? 

BEAVERS: In August of 1936. 

HOPKINS: OK. And she was a school teacher in what city? 

BEAVERS: Well, at that time she had just taken a position. 

She had just served one semester, I believe, at Morris 

Brown College in Atlanta. Prior to that, she had been a 

teacher at Florida A & M [University]. Prior to that, she 

was a teacher in the Kansas City schools. Then she came 

out here and I stopped her teaching. 

HOPKINS: You stopped her from teaching? [laugher] What 

did you ask her to do? What did she do when she was 

married to you, was she a housewife? 

BEAVERS : Yes . 

HOPKINS: And she's been a housewife through the years? 

OK. Has she been active in civic organizations? 

BEAVERS: Yes, she was active in the Urban League, she was 

active in the — She was president of the Urban League 

Guild, and she was active in church organizations, and 

clubs, and that kind of thing. 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, we're about to close, do you have 

any last words? 



201 



BEAVERS: Last words? [laughter] 

HOPKINS: We've spoken for some eight sessions, so I didn't 
know if you had a closing statement. 

BEAVERS: Well, I think we've covered a lot of ground. I 
don't know whether I've said much or not, but I — In 
closing, and just summing up, I think you know my attitude 
with reference to American citizenship and the — I would 
say that my philosophy is something like the one I men- 
tioned about Benjamin Mays. "We're here by the grace of 
God to do two things: serve God, and to serve our fellow 
man." And, I think the noted American author [Charles 
Edwin] Markham summed it up pretty well in his creed: 
"There is a destiny that makes us brothers. None goes his 
way alone. All that we send into the lives of others comes 
back into our own." 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, we thank you for your participation 
and your patience over these long sessions. There is no 
question that you are the epitome of black leadership in 
Los Angeles, there's no question in my mind you're the 
epitome of leadership — American leadership — at its best. 
It's been a pleasure interviewing you. 
BEAVERS: Thank you. 



202 



TAPE NUMBER: IX, SIDE ONE 
JULY 27, 1982 

HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, today as you know we'd like to tie 
up some loose ends in ending this interview session. In a 
previous session we talked at great length concerning the 
growth and development of Golden State Mutual and due to 
mechanical error on my part, and on the part of the tape 
machine, we did not get your response to one of my last 
questions on tape. So, to that end, we'd like to get your 
response on tape to the question. 

Can you tell me something about the status of Golden 
State Mutual Life Insurance Company as it stands today? 
BEAVERS: All right, Mr. Hopkins, I ' d be glad to do that. 

Our company, as it stands today, and I will use the 
1957 — I mean I will use the fifty-seventh annual report, 
which covers the status of the company as of December 31, 
1981. Based upon this report, I have to say that I feel 
that our company — the Golden State Mutual Life — has made 
great strides when we consider the original statement back 
in 1925, its first partial year, when we had something like 
seventeen — We had something like seventeen thousand — 
seventeen or eighteen thousand dollars in assets. At this 
time, the company has assets of over $89,000,000. Total 
admitted assets of over $89 million. Our income for that 



203 



year was $37,342,000. Our life insurance in force today is 
$3,757,000,000. We paid to policy holders last year 
[$]23,000,000. 

I think the thing that I'm proud of, too, is the 
efficient officer staff that we have. I think they are 
doing an outstanding job. The chairman of the board and 
the chief executive officer, Ivan Houston, has done a very 
fine job. He and the president, who was Larkin Teasley, 
he's our president and chief operating officer. Those two 
men, backed with a good team of officers, well-qualified, 
highly skilled in their respective positions, have done a 
tremendous job in the last decade. And it's reflected I 
think in the amount of insurance in force and the number of 
people we have employed and the tremendous service that 
they are rendering. I'm proud of the fact that they are 
well qualified. Our total official staff, they are well 
qualified for the job because they have taken advantage of 
the opportunity to learn and to get this specialized 
training offered by the life office management organiz- 
ation. We have among our official personnel, oh more than 
a dozen who have qualified for the fellowship, F. L.M.I, 
designation, and then we have — 

HOPKINS: What does that mean, Mr. Beavers, F.L.M.I.? 
BEAVERS: F. L.M.I, means Fellow in Life Insurance Manage- 
ment [Fellow of the Life Management Institute]. 



204 



HOPKINS: Now, what exactly is that? 

BEAVERS: Well, that's the highest training organization, I 
think the one — the main training organization in the life 
insurance industry. And it has a course of study divided 
into many parts leading up to the fellowship degree. When 
one completes that he or she is really highly qualified in 
the life insurance field. And, of course, in whatever 
specialty that they engage in, well that's — Well, it's a 
complete training for life insurance business, and it's 
sponsored by the Life Insurance Trade Association. 
HOPKINS: So it is a fellowship of distinction? Not 
everyone has this — 

BEAVERS: Oh, no, you work hard for that, and it's — The 
very fact that you receive it is evidence that you're 
really highly trained and qualified. Of course, now what 
you do with it after you get it is another matter. But you 
have had the training. 

Did I say how many we had? Over a dozen in our 
employ. And we make a specialty of encouraging employees 
to take this training, and most, well, not most of them, 
but as many employees as we can influence to do that, and 
more and more they are accepting the opportunity to take 
this training as they do their other work, as they do their 
regular work, and they get this training, and they are 
prepared to do a better job by virtue of the training. And 



205 



our chairman, chief executive, he has his F.L.M.I., C.L.U., 
and in addition to his actuarial degrees, and the presi- 
dent, Larkin Teasley, he has specialized in actuarial work 
and life insurance management, and we have our agency 
director and senior vice-president and chief marketing 
officer, Stephen [A.] Johns. He has a C.L.U. and F.L.M.I.. 
And I think this training plays — it's a big factor in the 
success of the company. 

Getting back to the annual report, I mentioned the 
amount of assets and the amount of income, and I might also 
state that those assets are distributed among $46,000,000 
in bonds, $3,000,000 in stock, $17,000,000 in mortgage 
loans on real estate, and we have other assets and also we 
have over $6,000,000 in surplus. So the company is in a 
good position today and is doing fine despite the economic 
conditions . 

Our chief executive officer reported that we are not 
trying to, or we can't hide the economic conditions, 
everybody knows the economic conditions are bad, but we 
encourage our sales forces to work with the people who are 
employed to solicit, and give more attention to people who 
are employed and not worry so much about the unemployed. 
Of course we are concerned about the unemployed, we want 
to, as good citizens, help to find answers to some of these 
problems, but then we can't afford to sit down and cry 



206 



about the unemployed and let those people who are employed 
and need insurance, let that business go by. So that's a 
pretty good philosophy, I think. 

HOPKINS: You mentioned the C.L.U., what is that? 
BEAVERS: That's a Chartered Life Underwriter. Now that's 
a study that's mainly for field personnel. It qualifies 
people to sell insurance and it goes into the life insur- 
ance business from the sales point of view. 
HOPKINS: Is that also a distinguished — Does every insur- 
ance agent become a C.L.U.? 
BEAVERS: Oh, yes. 

HOPKINS: Oh, that's a standard. You have to have met some 
qualifications in order to — 

BEAVERS: Yes, that requires a study that's concentrated on 
the sales side. Of course in doing that, that course 
includes a complete understanding of economics and the 
place of life insurance, and one's budget, and the many 
ways in which life insurance can be applied to help the 
individual. It's a course that's — It's a specialization 
in life insurance from the sales point of view. 
HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, in 1925, did you ever in your 
wildest dreams believe the company would be as prosperous 
and as successful as it appears today? 

BEAVERS: No, frankly I didn't. I didn't see the picture 
then, but I knew and I had confidence in the ability — in 



207 



our ability — to develop a good business, and I fully shared 
the view of our founder that our company was needed to 
provide employment opportunities and mortgage loans and all 
of the services that the insurance premium bought. In 
other words, give the policy owners an opportunity to share 
in all of the benefits that their dollars created. And I 
fully shared that conception as expressed by our founder 
back in 1925. And it was a privilege that I was happy to 
have, and as I look back now over those years it is a 
rewarding satisfaction to me to know that I played some 
part in helping to make Golden State Mutual a reality. 
HOPKINS: I know you were director emeritus of the company 
at one point, and now I think you've retired from that 
status. But as you look at the company, do you see any 
obvious pitfalls or any problems in the direction the 
company is moving? 

BEAVERS: Well, let me explain that my status — I'm retired 
— but while I was retired I received the honor of chairman 
of the board emeritus. Of course, I'm a cofounder and 
chairman of the board emeritus and director emeritus, so 
that's past history. In regards to the pitfalls, there are 
always pitfalls. There's a certain amount of risk a 
company in any business has. But I don't see any pitfalls 
for our company for the reason that our official staff 
maintains its interest in seeking well-qualified personnel. 



208 



and as time goes on, and others, new personnel and new 
officers must take over, I think the company has been well 
established and it would take a lot of neglect and abuse of 
authority and all that I don't see in any of our personnel. 
With the type of management that we have at this time, I 
just don't see that happening. I just don't see any 
pitfalls that would come to our company that would cause it 
to fail. So I think that would answer your question. I 
can't see any pitfalls, because we have a very efficient 
core of officers, and we have some very fine personnel in 
our organization', employees in the office and field. So 
many of them are dedicated to their commitment to make the 
company better. In other words, we are not satisfied with 
what has been done, but we are trying to do better all the 
time. And with that kind of view and with that type of 
personnel, well it's pretty hard to find — to see ahead any 
pitfalls of any kind. 

HOPKINS: OK, Mr. Beavers, we've concluded our discussion 
about Golden State Mutual, and in the past we've talked to 
some degree about individuals like Charlotta Bass and Paul 
Williams that you've known. But, it also comes to our 
attention that you've known some national and international 
leaders; and in the international arena, Mr. Ralph Bunche, 
and in the national arena, former president Richard M. 



209 



Nixon. Can we start with Mr. Nixon? How and when did you 
meet Richard M. Nixon? 

BEAVERS: Oh, I met Mr. Richard M. Nixon — Well, before he 
became vice-president I worked in his campaign, in the 
Eisenhower/Nixon campaign, and I became very close to Dick 
Nixon, and he and I were good friends. I visited his home 
up in Trousdale [Estates], and on one of my visits to 
Washington I was his guest in the Senate. I attended one 
of the meetings of the Senate as his guest. I thought I 
knew him very well. I was in one of the meetings, one of 
the campaign meetings, here at the Statler Hotel, and in 
this meeting were just a small number of his supporters, 
this was during a campaign for Eisenhower and Nixon as 
president. And at that time one of the members in the 
audience raised a question to Nixon, and he said, he just 
asked the question bluntly, he says, "Dick, why do you fool 
around with this civil rights business and the Negro vote? 
We don't get their vote. Why are you so concerned about 
it?" You could have heard a pin drop when — And Nixon in 
answering him, though, he gave such a talk about the rights 
of Negro citizens, and what it meant, I didn't think that 
Roy Wilkins could have done a better job that he did 
answering the question. I was really sold on the man. So 
you can imagine what a shock it was to me when he got into 



210 



that Watergate mess, and I was very, very much disappointed 
just as many of his other friends were. 

HOPKINS: You mentioned then that you were working for his 
campaign. I guess it would have been the 1952 campaign, 
and as a Republican. And then earlier in a pre-tape 
interview you mentioned that you would like to make some 
correction about your affiliation with the Republican party 
that you had talked about in an earlier tape. 
BEAVERS: Oh, yes, I think you asked me about — You asked 
me if I were a Republican, or I don't know how it came 
about, but I would like to correct that answer, because I 
gave you some answer to the effect that there was some 
validity in being able to know what was going on in both 
parties. But the real answer is that I believe that, 
regardless as to whether it is a Democrat or a Republican 
or independent, whoever is in the White House, they have 
the same obligation to us as citizens as anybody else. And 
it shouldn't — In other words, civil rights is not a 
partisan politic [al] matter. It's a real national problem 
that has to be dealt with, and the change of parties 
doesn't change it one bit. Of course, I admit that the 
Democrats have recently become a very real vital force in 
the Negro community, and it's because they have given more 
attention to civil rights. And that was brought about in 
part by the work of the NAACP in getting the Civil Rights 



211 



Act of 1964 and '55, which requires the protection of the 
Negro vote. It doesn't matter whether you're black or 
white and where you live, you have a vote. And prior to 
that time the Democrats, when they had the power they 
didn't let Negroes vote in the South, in most of those 
southern states. They intimidated the Afro-American, he 
didn't get to go to the polls, and as a result of that most 
of the chairmen of the very important committees in the 
Congress were from southern states. I don't believe that 
the white Americans realized how they were being disenfran- 
chised until this happened, when the Negroes were able to 
go to the polls and vote down in the South. Now, they can 
understand, and even George [C] Wallace recognizes the 
value of the Negro vote and he's talking about running 
again. So that takes care of my feeling, and the reason 
why I don't at this late date intend to change my party 
affiliation. But I still vote for the candidate that I 
think is best qualified and will do the best job for us. 
When he does the right job for the blacks it will be the 
right job for the whites, because the inequities and 
injustices that are so counter to what's provided in our 
Constitution and the Bill of Rights doesn't help anybody, 
it doesn't help anybody but those who are guilty of trying 
to defraud and take care of selfish interests at the 
expense of those who are unable to defend themselves. 



212 



HOPKINS: Do you find the so-called Reaganomics a means to 
bring about economic equality in this country? 
BEAVERS: No, when you say Reaganomics, I can't go for 
that, because Reagan seems to be so determined to have his 
way, and he doesn't appear to be concerned about the plight 
of the unfortunate and the lower income people, the poor. 
He's so concerned about the communists and building up the 
defense and the military that he wants to just forget about 
the responsibility to provide jobs, and the matter of 
equity and justice doesn't seem to enter his mind. He's 
trying to do too many things at one time. Now, I admit 
that the government should do more to balance the budget , 
and that the spending should be brought under control, but 
not at the expense of the poorest class of citizens. And I 
think the reduction of expenses and the reduction of taxes 
at the same time is bad, because while you're reducing 
spending you're reducing your revenue at the same time, and 
you'll never balance the budget like that. 
HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, going back to Mr, Nixon, as you 
said, you worked on his campaign. How did you come to meet 
him? 

BEAVERS: Well I was a Republican, I worked in the Repub- 
lican party, and of course when Dick Nixon became a can- 
didate I met him. 



213 



HOPKINS: You met him, I see. Did you by chance have any, 
as a Los Angeles or Southern California community leader, 
did you have any discussions with Mr. Nixon in private 
concerning his views on civil rights? 
BEAVERS: Oh, yes. 

HOPKINS: Will you share some of that with us? 
BEAVERS: I just mentioned about the answer that he gave in 
that meeting, I was very happy with him, and I thought he 
was — And I also, you might recall this when there was a 
disturbance in — [tape recorder turned off] Let's see, 
what was I going to say? 

HOPKINS: You were mentioning that I might remember an in- 
cident. 

BEAVERS: When they had that — It was a riot down in Greens- 
boro, North Carolina, I believe it was. At any rate, Nixon 
went down there to speak and he got off the plane, the 
first thing, they asked him about his position. And he at 
that time explained that he was — that he believed in the 
principle that those Negroes had the right of citizenship, 
and he believed in what their rally was all about. So 
there are a number of things — In fact, up to the time that 
he was caught up with the Watergate matter, I thought he 
was really straight, straightforward. 



214 



HOPKINS: In 1954 we had the landmarlc desegregation de- 
cision, did you talk to him about that? What was his 
stance on the desegregation issue? 
BEAVERS: Oh, he was for it, 
HOPKINS: He was for it, OK. 

BEAVERS: Yes. But something happened after he became pres- 
ident. He didn't put into practice what he had been preach- 
ing. And, I think it was due to two things. The blacks 
were not supporting the Republicans, and of course that was 
a thing that the other side could use. And the next thing, 
it was just a matter of politics, it became a matter of 
politics, because he needed the votes, and of course the 
Negroes left the Republican party in droves, and partic- 
ularly after the — Well, of course, that wasn't until after 
the Voting Rights Act, last Voting Rights Act. That's when 
they left in droves. And that's why we have so many 
elected offices. Because they — And the segregated pattern 
became a thorn for presidential candidates because they had 
to recognize those people, because they had the vote. They 
could vote them out of office. 

HOPKINS: Nixon ran on a law-and-order basis, too, and, I 
guess blacks were considered to be the lawless at the time. 
BEAVERS: Well, we all believe in law and order. But it 
should be equally applied. The law — All citizens, regard- 
less of their ethnic identification, all citizens should 



215 



have the rights of citizenship, and their rights should be 
protected under the law. We have to be against crime. I'm 
certainly against crime, and that's one of the things we 
have to fight hard about now, because in our own neighbor- 
hoods we are the victims of more crime than other people. 
So we have to be for law and order, but we want the law and 
order to be, we want the law to be enforced all around. 
The law should be blind as to color. The fact that a white 
man doesn't make it any better because he's white, and it 
doesn't make it any worse because he's black. Crime is 
crime, and that's the position that our officials should 
take. 

HOPKINS: You also — Of course, we mentioned in previous 
tapes and discussed to some degree that you knew Ralph 
Bunche, but later he became, as we discussed, the assistant 
general secretary of the United Nations. Did you know him 
when he held this position? 

BEAVERS: Oh, yes. On October 12, 1953, I have here a day 
pass he gave me. My wife and I had the pleasure of visit- 
ing him at his office on the thirty-third floor in the 
United Nations building, and we had a very enjoyable visit 
that day. He gave us a pass that enabled us to tour the 
United Nations building and to also sit in on one of the 
meetings of the assembly. 



216 



HOPKINS: Did Ralph Bunche seem different very much from 
when you knew him earlier? I mean obviously he's more 
mature in 1953 than he was during the thirties when you 
knew him earlier, but what kind of person was he, as you 
recall? 

BEAVERS: He was a very, very — He had a very pleasing per- 
sonality. And the very fact that he won the Nobel Peace 
Prize in that situation over there where, his white su- 



perior officer — he was murdered, wasn't he? And aft 



er 1 



i <- 



was over, he did a superb job. And he was well fitted for 
that kind of work, he had a pleasing personality, and was 
well educated and expressed himself so well, and he had 
that tact, that natural diplomacy to bring people together. 
It was beautiful. I shall never forget the day when I 
attended a meeting out at UCLA campus. I think it was the 
dedication of the Ralph Bunche building. That was a very 
impressive meeting with me. It was there that I first 
heard that song, the United Nations song, sung by some chil- 
dren. I remember those words, "Let there be peace on earth 
and let it begin with me. Let there be peace on earth, the 
peace that was intended to be. God is our father, and 
brothers all are we. Let me walk with my brother in 
perfect harmony." Those words stuck with me, and it was 
beautiful, and Ralph was really a truly great, great man. 



217 



TAPS NUMBER: IX, SIDE TWO 
JULY 27, 1982 

HOPKINS: From previous discussions we've had, it seems as 
though Ralph Bunche made a wide impression upon the Los 
Angeles community as a whole. You mentioned once that 
Betty Hill had something to do with helping to see about 
his education. Can you shed some light on that? 
BEAVERS: Yes, Betty Hill was, oh, she led — She was a very 
dynamic character. She was the head of a women's organiza- 
tion, and she was very active in helping to raise funds to 
contribute to Ralph's education when he was going to 
college. Of course, Betty Hill, she was one of those kind, 
you just didn't say no to her. All the political can- 
didates knew her, that she was well respected, and she had 
a very good and effective organization. That was a rather 
interesting point, too, that she voluntarily made this 
plea, and I don't know, I don't remember about the amount 
of funds that were raised, but it was a pretty good amount, 
and it was a rather successful affair. 

HOPKINS: Now, this was for him to go to Princeton or was 
it Harvard? I remember reading — Do you recall what? 
BEAVERS: I don't recall which particular university was 
involved, but it was for his — I know the campaign was for 
his educational fund. 



218 



HOPKINS: Why was Betty Hill so interested in Ralph Bunche? 
BEAVERS: Well, Ralph was active here in the community, and 
his uncle was, his name was [Thomas] Johnson, and he was a 
part of the community, and we knew him, and he went to 
school here, and he was active in the church and the young 
people's organization and we just knew him. He was Ralph. 
HOPKINS: He must have shown great promise, I guess. There 
was no doubt. Johnson, his uncle, what was his first name 
do you recall? 

BEAVERS: Oh, what was his first name? He was — For a long 
time he directed the choir of the Independent Church. What 
was his first name? He also sang for the Los Angeles 
Temple. Before or after he left us? I'll get that name 
for you. I can't recall it now. 
HOPKINS: OK, we can get that. 

OK, Mr. Beavers, do you have any further comments to 
add concerning Ralph Bunche, or Mr. Nixon, or maybe any 
other individuals that you knew that you'd like to bring to 
our attention? 

BEAVERS: Well, there's another alumnus from UCLA that I 
mentioned. I think we talked about Jackie Robinson, but we 
didn't mention Kenny [Kenneth Stanley] Washington. Kenny 
was a favorite of mine, too. I remember particularly being 
present at the football game between UCLA and USC in 1939, 
and the score of that game was nothing to nothing. Nobody 



219 



scored, but Kenny and all of the players, of course, but 
Kenny in particular, played a marvelous game. So much so, 
that the coach gave Kenny the opportunity to leave the 
field just about a minute before the game was over. It was 
seconds the way they counted, and I remember that whole 
crowd of people, the Coliseum was full to capacity, and all 
those people just stood and gave Kenny Washington one of 
the greatest ovations as he left the field. It was outstan- 
ding, and I was so impressed with that. And I have never 
forgotten it. And of course I saw Kenny play many football 
games, and he's remembered as one of the greats in the 
football field. He was — Of course, I knew Kenny, and I 
knew his, I guess it was his uncle. He was on the police 
force for a long time, Washington. I can't remember first 
names anymore, but I saw Kenny play many times, and even 
when he was with the Rams. And of course, I, in the early 
days, I was a member of the Rams fan club, their board of 
directors, and so I knew Kenny and his activities in the 
community. He was good. 

HOPKINS: What made him an outstanding person? I've heard 
his name for years myself. And I never — Other than the 
fact that he played football for UCLA, what other activ- 
ities was he involved in? 

BEAVERS: Well, of course, he was involved in — He had a 
job for one of the — I forget which — He was a salesman for 



220 



some company, and he was active in the community, and he 
worked with the kids, and he was seemingly loved by most 
everybody. He had a good personality and a good record. 
He used to live up here in Baldwin Hills, over on that 
street that runs into, oh, what's the name of that street? 
Down Marianna [Avenue]. Yes, he lived over there when I, 
when we first moved up here. That was back in the sixties. 
These athletes, many of them are a real credit to our 
race, and so many times they don't take advantage of the 
opportunity to qualify in getting through some type of busi- 
ness where they could be more effective in helping with the 
problems in the community. Of course, some of them are 
doing it. More and more we find them recognizing their 
need for more than just skills in their particular sports, 
but they need other skills to use when they can no longer 
use those skills on the football field or whatever. I 
noticed there's one young fellow that was a star in high 
school, and this was something that happened just recently. 
I can't think of the boy's name now, but he refused to 
leave school and go into — and play football, either foot- 
ball or basketball, until he finished his education. And 
he was influenced to do that by his parents. And I thought 
that was a good step in the right direction. 



221 



HOPKINS: We mentioned Jackie Robinson, I think in the 
past, but I wasn't sure if we got on tape as to how you 
came to meet him? 

BEAVERS: Well, I met Jackie — I don't remember where I 
first met him. I believe he came to our office once, but 
my close association with him was in the Freedom Fund fight 
for the NAACP. I knew of him as an athlete, and I knew of 
his work, of course, the first black to break the racial 
barriers in major league baseball, but I knew him person- 
ally from working with him on the Freedom Fund for the 
NAACP. Jack and I were good friends and he was a good 
leader for that fund. They raised — I don't know the 
amount of money that he raised, but he was very successful. 
It was — I remember meeting with him in the NAACP office in 
New York. Of course I had other meetings with him here, 
and let's see, there were other members. Who else was 
there? Let's see. [tape recorder turned off] 
HOPKINS: Mr. Beavers, we thanked you a great deal in 
Session VIII for your contributions, and again we have to 
thank you again for allowing us to have this addendum tape 
to round out our interview. 

BEAVERS: Well, it's been a pleasure working with you, and 
I hope we succeeded in covering up the mistakes, and hope 
this last session will really get the job done. I am very 
much interested in your work and in your goals, and what 



222 



you're trying to do, and whatever I can do to aid you I 
want you to feel free to call upon me. 
HOPKINS: OK, thank you again. 



223 



INDEX 



African Methodist Episcopal 

Church, 1, 5, 15, 

30, 39, 65 
Alderson, Dorothy, 116 
Alexander, P. J., 31 
Alexander Hamilton 

Institute, 85 
Allen, Brenda, 69 
Allied Organization Against 

Discrimination in 

Defense Industries, 

22, 93 
All Nations Foundation, 38 
Alpha Phi Alpha, 130 
American Legion, 90 

-Ben Bowie Post, 90 
American Life and Health 

Insurance Associa- 
tion, 73 
Atlanta Life Insurance 

Company, 9 8 
American Life Insurance 

Convention, 73-74 
American Mutual Benefit 

Association, 41-43, 

80-81 
American National Insurance 

Company, 78-79 
Atlanta, Georgia, 2-4, 8 

Banks, Edward, 47 
Batiste, Helen, 114 
Beasley, Gloria, 114 
Beavers, Annie Andrews 

(mother) , 1-2 
Beavers, Sr., George Allen 

(father), 1 
Beavers, Helen (sister), 

2, 35 
Beavers, Leroy (brother), 1 
Beavers, Lola Lillian 

Cunningham (wife), 

200 
Beavers, Louise (cousin), 

36 
Beavers, Mary Elmyra 

(sister) ,1,36 



Beavers, Willie Mae (wife), 

35, 200 
Blodgett, Louis M., 51 
Bowron, Fletcher, 124, 140, 

144 
Bracey, Hayward, 112 
Brookins, Hartford H., 39 
Bunche, Ralph Johnson, 36, 

209, 216-19 

California Eagle , 2 2 
Carroll, Maureen, 116 
Carver (George Washington) 

Citation Award, 126, 

132 
Christian Church, 28 
Cochran, Johnnie, 110 
Cochran, Jr. Johnnie, 110 
Cohen, Mickey, 69-70 
Covington, Floyd C, 140, 

149-50 
Crambly , F. H. , 31, 33 
Crusade for Freedom, 127 

Davis, Lolette, 114 
Diggs, Charles, 15-16 
Dunbar Hospital, 16 

Eisenhower, Dwight, 53, 210 

First African Methodist 

Episcopal church, 2, 
6-7, 28, 30, 90, 123 

First Independent Church. 
See People ' s 
Independent Church 
of Christ 

Flipper, Joseph, 2 

Gamaut Club, 36 
German-American Bank. See 

Security Pacific 

National Bank 
Gibson, Joshua, 26 
Gold Furniture Company, 33 
Golden State Minority 

Foundation, 77, 79, 

105, 111, 118 



224 



Golden State Mutual Life 
Insurance Company, 
51-52, 72-75, 106- 
112, 118-120 
-Beavers' role, 54, 61- 

64, 67-68 
-and black power 

movements, 104-6 
-church support, 13, 47, 

63-65, 90-91 
-expansion, 52-53, 61, 
92-104 

-in Depression era, 
88-89, 91-92, 100-1 
-founding, 19, 21, 4 1- 

51, 55-57, 59, 81 
-Houston's (Norman) role, 

46, 54, 61-62, 68 
-insurance licensing 

requirements, 44, 97-98 
-legislative action to 
prevent creation of 
company, 48-49, 66 
-Nickerson ' s role, 45-46, 

54, 61-62 
-original clientele, 

47-48 
-racial policies, 76-79, 

111 
-women's roles, 113-118 
Good Samaritan Hospital, 

15-17 
Good Shepherd Hospital, 

15-16 
Goodwill Industries, 38 
Gordon, Wilbur C, 47 
Granger, Lester, 179-80 
Great Migration of southern 
blacks, 18, 34, 93 
-into Chicago, 3, 18, 96 
-into Los Angeles, 3, 18, 

20-21, 198 
-into New York, 3, 18 
Greggs, Napoleon P., 28-29, 

38-39, 47, 63, 90 
Griffith, Tom, 172-73 

Hackett, Mabel, 115 
Harris, James Ervin, 84-85 
Harris, Lillian Houston, 
83-84 



Health Insurance Associa- 
tion of America, 103 
Hickman, Verna Stratton, 

67, 74 
Hill, Betty, 218-19 
Holman United Methodist 

Church, 37-39, 137 
-Christian Education 
Building, 137 
Home State Braves, 26 
Hooks, Benjamin Lawson, 181 
Hooper, Leslie J., 58 
Hoover, Herbert C, 194 
Home, Lena, 25 
Horrall, Clemence B., 69 
House Un-American Activi- 
ties Committee, 
153-54 
Houston, Ivan J., 74, 100, 

106, 120, 204 
Houston, Norman Oliver, 
42-43, 46-47, 54, 
58, 61-62, 68, 74, 
82-88, 90 
Houston, Jr., Norman 0., 83 
Howard University, 196 
Hudson, H. Claude, 12, 

171-72 
Hudson, Luther, 47 
Hunigan, Berke N. , 67 
Hutcherson, Willie Mae, 7 

Jenkins, Lorene, 116 
Johns, Stephen A., 206 
Johnson, Edgar J., 52, 68 
Johnson, Lyndon B., 193, 

196 
Johnson, Marcelma, 116 
Johnson, Simon P., 47, 50, 

90 
Johnson, Thomas, 219 
Jones, Calwell, 41 
Jones, Hartley, 47 
Jordan, Frederick Douglass, 

123 

Kennedy, John F., 193 
Kilgore, Jr., Thomas, 39 
King, Jr., Martin Luther, 
53, 134, 186 



225 



Lafayette Players, 25, 27 
Lawson, James Morris, 39 
Leaders Roundtable Business 
Conference, 116, 113 
Liberty Savings and Loan 

Association, 47 
Life Advertiser's Associa- 
tion, 58, 73, 74 
Life Office Management 

Association, 58, 73- 
74, 100, 103, 205-5 
Life Underwriters Training 

Council, 103 
Lockett, Amanda, 114 
Los Angeles--black 
communities 
-appeal for black immi- 
gration, 3, 19, 197-98 
-black voters' political 
party affiliations, 
193-94, 197 
-geographical 
apportionment of 
blacks, 176-77 
-growth and influence of 
black churches, 39, 188 
-public housing, 140-49, 
151, 155-56, 159-60 
Los Angeles--city 
government 
-Community Redevelopment 

Program, 167-68 
-Housing Authority, 131, 

136, 140, 166 
-Mayor's Citizen 
Committee To Study 
Zoological Problems, 166 
-Mayor's Committee on 
Major League Baseball, 
164 
Los Angeles--county 
government 
-Board of Supervisors, 

137 
-Conference on Community 

Relations, 128 
-Grand Jurors Associa- 
tion, 69 
-Redevelopment Associa- 
tion, 163 
Los Angeles Angels, 26 



Los Angeles 

Comme 
Los Angeles 

Chest 
Los Angeles 

56, 1 
Los Angeles 
Los Angeles 

10-11 
Los Angeles 

Assoc 
Los Angeles 



Chamber of 
rce, 73, 122 
Community 
, 128-30, 133 
Dodgers, 154- 
63-65 

Foundry, 3 
High School, 6, 

Home Builders 
iation, 193 
Sentinel, 22 



Los Angeles Times , 19 3 
Temple, 219 
ip. The, 87 



Los Angeles 
Loyalty Grouj 



Markham, Charles Edwin, 202 
Marshall, Louise, 116 
Mays, Benjamin, 188, 202 
Mechanicsville (section of 

Los Angeles ) , 2 
Merchants and Manufacturers 

Association, 122 
Metropolitan Insurance 

Company of Chicago, 

98 
Miller, Brenda, 114 
Ministerial Alliance, 30 
Morehouse College, 138 
Morgan, Mary, 115 
Morris Brown College, 201 
Murray, Cecil, 40 
Murray, Philip, 136 



National Asso 
the Ad 
Colore 
68, 12 
171-72 
85, 19 
222 
-Freedom Fu 
-Legal Defe 

Hollywood 
-Los Angele 
169-71, 18 
National Asso 

Media 
National Insu 
tion, 
134-35 



elation for 
vancement of 
d People, 22, 
4, 136, 169, 
, 175-78, 131- 
0, 192, 211, 

nd Fight, 222 
nse Fund , 
division, 182 
s branch, 
3-85 

elation of 
Women, 138, 140 
ranee Associa- 
71, 99, 133, 



226 



National Negro Insurance 

Association. See 

National Insurance 

Association 
Negro baseball leagues, 

26-27 
New Age , 66 
Nickerson, Emma Pool, 79, 

85 
Nickerson, Sr. , William H., 

79, 80 
Nickerson, Jr., William H., 

42-46, 54, 61-62, 

68, 79, 81, 87-88, 

90, 147 
Nickerson Gardens, 146-47 
Nixon, Richard M., 209-10, 

213-15, 219 
North Carolina Mutual Life 

Insurance Company, 

75 

Oakland Outlook , 8 5 
Occidental Life Insurance 

Company, 58, 7 3 
O'Malley, Walter F., 158-59 

Pacific Electric Railway 

Company, 4 6 
Pacific Mutual Life 

Insurance Company, 

58, 73 
Pajaud, William E. , 74 
Parks, H. B., 29-30 
People's Independent Church 

of Christ, 13, 27- 

31, 35, 38-39, 41, 

47, 63-64, 90, 219 
-Board of Trustees, 29 
-Young People's Lyceum, 
35, 37 
Perry, William, 128 
Phi Beta Sigma, 127 
Pinson, Helen, 116 
Potter and Sons, 87 
Poulson, Norris, 140, 144, 

146, 156-58, 163-65 
Prentice, Bessie F., 31 
Prudential Life Insurance 
Company, 58, 7 3-74 



Reagan, Ronald, 193 
Rheingold Beer, 131 
Rickey, Branch, 26 
Roberts, Frederick Madison, 

49, 66-67 
Robinson, Jackie, 26, 218, 

222 
Roosevelt, Franklin D., 

121, 194-95 

Santa Fe Railway, 5 

Scott, Robert, 71 

Second Baptist Church, 39, 
90 

Security National Bank. 
See Security 
Pacific National 
Bank 

Security Pacific National 
Bank, 8-10 

Selective Service Board, 
14, 18, 121 

Shackleford, J. H., 31-32, 
34, 48 

Shell, Ernest, 111, 118 
-Ernest Shell Pioneer 
Award, 118 

Southern Christian 

Leadership Confer- 
ence, 190, 192 

Southern Pacific, 82 

Spencer, Kenneth, 36 

Stevens, W. Bertrand, 15 

Stuart, M. S. , 72 

Teasley, Larkin, 106, 204, 

206 
Thompson, Erma L., 116 
Torrance, T. A. , 51 
Towles, Henry H., 47, 50, 

90 
Truman, Harry S., 122 

United Negro College Fund, 
78 

United States Congress — 
House Committee on 
Un-American 
Activities. See 
House Un-American 
Activities Committee 



227 



Universal Life Insurance 

Company, 9 8 
University of California, 

Berkeley, 83, 85-86 
University of California, 

Los Angeles, 54, 68, 

78, 128, 219-20 
University of Southern 

California, 54, 78, 

127, 219 
Upton, John H. , 46 
Urban League, 17, 22, 68, 

71, 170-71, 179-80, 

183-84, 190, 192, 

201 
-Guild, 201 
-Los Angeles chapter, 
179-80, 183-84 

Voting Rights Act, 215 

Wallace, George C, 212 
Warren, Earl, 86 
Washington, Booker T. , 3 
Washington, Kenneth 

Stanley, 219-20 
Washington, Leon Harold, 

22 
West, Mae, 18 3 
Whitley, G. W. , 31, 33-34 
Whittaker, Leon, 35 
Wilkins, Roy, 210 
Wilkinson, Frank B., 153 
Williams, Paul R., 6-7, 

149, 176, 209 
Wilson, Doris, 116 
World War I, 8, 13, 20, 83, 

87, 198 
World War II, 18-19, 179, 

197 

Yorty, Samuel W., 140, 161 
Young, Charles, 86 
Young, Whitney, 179 
Young Men's Christian 

Association, 11, 

175, 177-78 
Young People's Christian 

Endeavor Society, 6 



228 



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