Earlier this decade, some of America’s best-known life insurance companies quietly settled multimillion-dollar civil rights lawsuits challenging race-based life insurance rates and benefits. As a result, those companies closed a chapter of American economic history that began after the Civil War with the door-to-door marketing of small individual life insurance policies to poor workers, including former slaves, and their families. The closing of this chapter in history also marked the end of a form of Jim Crow race discrimination largely invisible to the American public.

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Publication Date

Summer 2010