Thursday, September 16, 2021
The Dynamic History of Blacks $1 Trillion Buying Power
By Kenneth D. Miller, Assistant Managing Editor
Published February 12, 2015

Foundation of Our Economic Progress Rooted in Los Angeles

In 2012 Nielsen conducted a study that concluded that Blacks buying power would reach $1trillion by 2015 and as we Celebrate Black History Month, such astronomical economic progress could be traced back nearly 100 years to its roots here in Los Angeles.


While Blacks only make up approximately 13 percent of the American population and own merely 5 percent of all U.S firms today, according to a Small Business Administration report, our Black pioneers set a remarkable trend that if continued would have solidified Blacks in the financial marketplace for generations to come.

Among the most significant individuals to influence the economic purchasing power of Blacks was the founding publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel, Leon H. Washington Jr.  who initiated a campaign encouraging Blacks to “Don’t Spend Where You Can’t Work!”

In 1933 Washington left his advertising position at the California Eagle, then the oldest, largest Black newspaper here, and started his first newspaper, which he originally called The Eastside Shopper.

A year later, Washington renamed the paper, The Sentinel, which soon became a rival to the Eagle.

He married Sentinel photographer, Ruth Brumell, and subsequently appointed Mrs. Washington as an assistant publisher in 1948 because of failing health.

In the first two decades of its existence, Washington’s Sentinel championed economic equality and entrepreneurship for its mostly African-American readers in the Los Angeles community.


Washington continued as acting publisher for the paper through the 1950s and 1960s. In 1972, it reached a peak circulation of 39, 277 and had a staff of 50.  Two years later, on June 17, 1974, Washington passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 67.  Now his widow, Ruth, assumed complete control as both editor and publisher. She served in that capacity until her death in 1990. After Mrs. Washington passed, Attorney Kenneth Thomas became publisher. Upon his death his widow Jennifer Thomas continued as publisher and today the Sentinel is continuing in the same tradition as its founder under the leadership of Danny Bakewell Sr. and his Family. 

Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company 

Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, was the largest black-owned insurance company in the western United States during its peak.

The company was founded by William Nickerson, Jr. with the assistance of Norman Oliver Houston and George Allen Beavers, Jr. in the mid-1920s. When Nickerson, an insurance salesman and publisher from Texas, arrived in Los Angeles, he was alarmed to discover that most of the 16,000 Blacks living in the city were unable to obtain life insurance. Unable to afford an attorney, Nickerson studied law to determine the state’s requirements to form a corporation to accommodate this need. He and his partners secured 500 pre-paid life insurance applications as well as the $15,000 deposit required by California. Houston raised the $15,000 and Beavers found 500 Blacks that would pay premiums for a company that was yet to be established. 

On July 23, 1925 they opened as the Golden State Guarantee Fund Insurance Company in a one-room office at 1435 Central Avenue. In 1948, Golden State Mutual opened a new office at West 1999 Adams Boulevard in Los Angeles.

As a major institution within the Black community, representatives of Golden State Mutual were active in the civil rights movement. 

Peter W. Dauterive

In 1972, Peter W. Dauterive was the founding president and chief executive officer of Founders Savings & Loan Assn., which bought the Santa Barbara Avenue branch of Santa Barbara Savings.

Dauterive started the new company because he wanted to provide home loans for a community scarred by the 1965 Watts riots, which had made many financial institutions abandon the area.

“I look on this as an opportunity to provide this community with financial services it needed pretty badly,” he said in 1973.

Dauterive served as a director of the California Savings and Loan League and director and president of the American Savings and Loan League. Reagan named him to the National Commission for Employment Policy, and he also served on several state commissions, including the California Economic Development Corp.

Dauterive died of natural causes in 1983, but his wife, Verna Dauterive, a former principal of Franklin Avenue Elementary School and USC student has continued to maintain his legacy.

In 2008 Dr. Verna Dauterive donated $25 million in the memory of her late husband to USC, the largest single donation an African-American has given to a university. 

Broadway Federal Bank

Broadway Federal Bank was created in 1946 as a mutual savings and loan by a group of civic-minded people interested in creating a financial institution that would serve the economic needs of African-Americans living in Los Angeles after World War II. With an opening capitalization of $150,000, the bank’s founders opened Broadway’s doors to welcome the first savers on January 11, 1947. H.A. Howard, a real estate broker and investor, was the first manager. The original Bank building consisted of a three-room office at 4329 South Broadway.

In 1949, Dr. Claude Hudson, a dentist and community leader became chair of the board of directors and supervised the management of the bank for the next 23 years.

In April of 1972, leadership of Broadway was passed to Dr. Hudson’s son, Elbert Hudson, 10 years after Broadway’s board elected Paul Hudson as president and chief executive officer. Elbert Hudson continues to chair the board and the executive committee of the board.

A parent company, Broadway Financial Corp., was created to hold what is now called Broadway Federal Bank. The bank has branches in Inglewood, mid-Wilshire and near the Los Angeles Coliseum. 

OneUnited Bank

Founded in 1968, OneUnited Bank is an African-American-owned and managed Massachusetts-chartered trust company headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. The FDIC bank is also a community development financial institution (CDFI) as certified by the United States Department of Treasury. As of December 31, 2013, OneUnited Bank maintained $616.4 million in total assets.

OneUnited Bank provides affordable and innovative financial products and services to fulfill its community development mission in the urban communities of Boston, Massachusetts, Miami, Florida and Los Angeles, California. OneUnited Bank services not-for-profits, small business, affordable housing, churches, and others. 

In 2001 the institution merged with Founders National Bank of Los Angeles, bringing the largest banking market in the country, along with star power in the form of Founders’ majority owners: former Los Angeles Lakers superstar, NBA Hall of Famer and successful businessman Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Grammy Award-winning songstress Janet Jackson, and former Motown Records President the late Jheryl Busby.

Categories: Local

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