Atlanta Life Insurance Company: History & Explanation

Instructor: Brian Muhammad
Learn more about the history of Atlanta Life Insurance Company, an enterprise founded by Alonzo Herndon and historically focused on serving African-American families. Afterwards, test your knowledge with a quiz.


In 1905, an attack of race riots occurred in Atlanta, destroying many black businesses in the downtown area. One of the business owners affected was Alonzo Herndon, a former slave and sharecropper who owned a successful barbershop. After this unfortunate incident, he took his savings from his profits and purchased the Atlanta Benevolent and Protective Association for $140.

Within five years, Herndon acquired two other companies and the combination of all three formed the Atlanta Mutual Insurance Association, which later became the Atlanta Life Insurance Company.

Alonzo Franklin
Alonzo Franklin

The Atlanta Life Insurance Company began as a small insurance association on Sweet Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, GA. It offered simple life and health policies, which paid a small claim upon the death of a policyholder. Atlanta Life targeted low-to-moderate-income black families in the local Atlanta communities.

Early Atlanta Life Insurance Building
Atlanta Life Insurance

Growth and Evolution

Herndon envisioned that Atlanta Life would be a valuable and reliable service for black people during a time when there weren't many dependable options for their community. The business laid the foundation by delivering on its services when its customers were in need. Atlanta Life promptly paid customer claims and over time proved to be a trustworthy resource for African-American families. It also created jobs for many in the community.

Atlanta Life continued to serve its customer base, and by 1909, the company had more than 20,000 policy holders. In 1916, the company went public and offered stock options. With this success, it quickly grew and expanded throughout 17 states.

Herndon's Death

Alonzo Herndon died in 1927 and his son, Norris Herndon, succeeded him as president of Atlanta Life. Norris continued his father's vision for serving the community through civic involvement and expanded the company's financial growth. Atlanta Life supported the civil rights movements by posting bail for students after sit-in protests, and providing employment to fired teachers and meeting spaces for civil rights groups.

Atlanta Life Insurance Building Today
Atlanta Life Insurance Today

In April 2001, Atlanta Life Insurance Company evolved with a new vision. The company now supports its customers as a financial services organization and has a new name, the Atlanta Life Financial Group.

Memorable Facts

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