Magic Johnson revitalizes the only remaining Black-founded and owned insurance company in the United States

BY Preta Peace Namasaba October 18, 2023 2:46 PM EDT
Magic Johnson. Photo Credit: Atlanta Life Insurance

Former NBA player and businessman Earvin “Magic” Johnson is revitalising Atlanta Life Insurance Company, the only remaining Black-founded and owned insurance company in the United States. Through EquiTrust Life Insurance Company, he has entered into an agreement with the historic company to broaden its offerings and reach. This investment joins an extensive portfolio of Johnson’s investment in the Black community.

“The decision to extend our support and resources to Atlanta Life Insurance Company stems from my passion for championing entrepreneurship and Black businesses and my life-long investment in the Black community. We have a new vision and a new direction for Atlanta Life that honors the guiding principles upon which it was founded while reimagining it’s future.”

Magic Johnson

Founded in 1905 by Alonzo Herndon, a formerly enslaved man, the company was a fundamental part of African American socioeconomic life in Atlanta. It transformed Sweet Auburn into a thriving locale for Black businesses and made Herndon Atlanta’s first Black millionaire. Notably, the company held the life insurance policy of prominent civil rights campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Acquired by Atlanta Life Holdings in 2023, Atlanta Life has been on a downward spiral for over a decade. The company was forced to sell its headquarters on Auburn Avenue in 2012 and eventually left the neighborhood two years later. With $350 million in assets, Atlanta Life has mainly provided employee benefits for employers. The onboarding of Johnson is an opportunity for the firm to reenter the retail market and boost its employee benefits offerings.

Magic Johnson got to learn about the remarkable legacy of Alonzo Herndon and Atlanta Life through an interview of rapper Killer Mike. Desiring to know more, he researched the history of the company and its founder. Inspired by Herndon’s groundbreaking journey, the two-time Hall of Famer is determined to keep his story and brand alive.

Anytime a Black man can go from slavery to become a Black millionaire here in Atlanta, it’s a story that should be told. And I’m glad that we are able to take this historical brand and company and revive, revitalize it and really bring it back to the people of Georgia. So my team has done an excellent job. And so I’m excited about my company.

Magic Johnson

In 2015, Johnson acquired a majority, controlling interest in EquiTrust Life Insurance Company. The transaction marked the largest financial services company purchase involving an individual African-American entrepreneur or group of African-American entrepreneurs. Distributing fixed-rate and indexed annuities and life insurance, Johnson has nearly doubled the company’s assets from $14 billion to $25.7 billion.

With over 23,800 independent agents, EquiTrust’s agreement with Atlanta Life Insurance is bound to boost the latter’s business. Supported by the nation’s largest black-owned insurance company, the only remaining Black-founded and owned insurance company in the United States will be in an optimum position to thrive.