Golden Circle Life Insurance Company
The Golden Circle Life Insurance Company was first established in 1950 as a fraternal organization through the efforts of Charles Allen Rawls, a Haywood County mortician who believed that the African American community should unite and create a cash benefit fund for struggling families living in black farm communities in West Tennessee. Poverty prevented many of the potential members from burying their deceased family members with dignity.
In 1950 Rawls assembled a small group of concerned men and women to assess the financial situation of the African American community of Haywood and surrounding counties and discuss the possibility of developing a cash benefit fraternal organization. The group designated Rawls to make contact with the Businessmen Association of Washington, D.C., and the Department of Insurance and Banking to initiate the process of securing a charter. Rawls also sought the advice of State Senator Hugh B. Helm of Nashville and attorney Joe Lutin, professor of law at Vanderbilt University. Further assistance was provided by J. H. Hudleston of the Afro-American Fraternal Organization and Dr. L. T. Miller, head of the Afro-American Hospital staff.
On July 5, 1950, the Sons and Daughters of the Golden Circle was organized in the First Baptist Church of Brownsville. With the help of attorney Cluster L. Johnson, legal counsel for the Afro-American Fraternal Organization, the Sons and Daughters of the Golden Circle functioned according to the laws governing the state of Tennessee. The first members and early organizers included C. A. Rawls, G. W. Rawls, J. Z. Rawls, Reverend E. W. Selby, Reverend C. W. Allen, Alex Hill, John R. Bond, Reverend W. R. Hill, Mrs. Nola Bond, Ms. C. Y. Russell, Mrs. Mary Jane Willis, Mrs. Mabel Leigh, Louis T. Minor, and Joe Transou. Through their efforts, thirty-three units of the Sons and Daughters of the Golden Circle were organized in Haywood County. Reverend A. E. Campbell of Memphis initiated several other units in Shelby County, the first at Columbus Baptist Church.
Money collected was used to insure individuals and provide loans to help save farms and homes in the African American communities. In 1951 an attempt to build a “Black Only” medical facility in Brownsville was initiated to aid blacks unable to receive adequate medical care in the white hospital in Haywood County.
In 1958 the Department of Insurance and Banking suggested that the organization convert to an Old Line Legal Reserve Stock Life Insurance Company. On May 16, 1958, the Sons and Daughters of the Golden Circle became known as the Golden Circle Life Insurance Company and operated in Brownsville, Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville. Members who were too old to be insured in the conversion retained membership in what was then known as the Tribes of Judea.
Three hundred thousand dollars were needed to write the first policy. On May 28, 1958, Frank Chapman, president of the Brownsville Bank contacted A. B. Benedict, president of First American Bank in Nashville, and authorized issuance of series G treasury bonds for the purpose of capitalizing the company. From 1950 to 1997, the company went from zero to more than nine million dollars in assets. According to a count in Black Enterprise magazine in June 1996, Golden Circle ranked ninth among the top ten black-owned insurance companies in America. Cynthia Rawls Bond is president and CEO of the company. The Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators has given Bond the Avon N. Williams Jr. Living Legend Award.