His mother heard from God……….

We give thanks to God always for William Nickerson – remembering his faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father (1 Thessalonians 1:2, 3). He knew God’s thoughts toward him, thoughts of peace and not of evil, that gave William Nickerson a fruitful life (Jeremiah 29:11). He was man who presented his body as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which was his reasonable service (Romans 12:1). Until his last Earthly days he was confident, that God who had begun a good work in him would complete it (Philippians 1:6). Therefore, we know that God is not unjust to forget William Nickerson’s work and labor of love which he throughout his life showed toward God’s name (Hebrews 6:10).
Minister Elois Kemper
KNOW THAT GOD, WITH ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE – ROMANS 10:9, 10!

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Golden State Mutual…. the fight for our history

March 24, 2011

RE: Golden State Mutual …..the fight….for our history

Greetings Family, Friends and Supporters:

Next Monday at 9:30 AM, March 28, 2011 at the L.A. Superior Court, 111 N. Hill St., L.A. 90012, is a pivotal hearing in the continued attempt to further dismantle Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company (GSM) by the office of the State Insurance Commissioner. Their plan is to transport its history out of the community. Spearheaded by the State’s Conservation & Liquidation Office (CLO), its court filing has been submitted.

In brief, the office of the CLO proposes the following:

· The State will give GSM’s storied wall murals to the Smithsonian Institution for a mere $750,000, even though these items have been valued at $5 million!
· The State will also donate GSM’s historical materials and artifacts to UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) incurring no monetary benefit to the company whatsoever.

As of January 2011, our State Insurance Commissioner is Dave Jones. The proposed actions of the CLO were set in motion by his predecessor, Steve Poisner, however. Although we know that Mr. Jones is aware of the situation at GSM, we believe that he has been successfully mislead by the people in charge at the CLO. These factors might explain his failure, thus far, to step in and put a stop to the CLO’s misguided efforts.

We, the Golden State Mutual Legacy Foundation (GSMLF) are opposed to the CLO’s position for a number of reasons:

a) The effort by the CLO to raise fair market value (its responsibility under the law) was a dismal failure, resulting in a shortfall of about 85% of the murals’ potential worth.
b) The CLO passed over GSMLF’s proposal to pay $1 Million (or more) for the murals and historical materials, claiming its bid did not conform with its RFP process.
c) Despite using GSMLF’s so-called failure to conform as an excuse to ignore its proposal and/or negotiate with us, it secretly negotiated with the Smithsonian even though its proposal also was not “conforming.”
d) The CLO ignored a “conforming” proposal equal to the Smithsonian’s ($750,000) by a private party, and failed to seek a counter-proposal, or make any attempt to maximize the return on this asset.
e) The Smithsonian’s intent is to remove the murals from Los Angeles, and transport them to the East coast.
f) Taking the historical materials and artifacts away from the West Adams business community which has the greatest interest in them and placing them in a difficult to access archive in Westwood is unacceptable.

The community’s voice has been spearheaded by the Golden State Mutual Legacy Foundation (GSMLF), the eight-month working community-based group, formulated to bid on art and historical materials (assets) and present a viable solution to keeping the GSM assets in Los Angeles. We are:

· The William Nickerson Jr. Project (the Nickerson family, friends and supporters of the legacy)
· CAAM (the California African American Museum)
· Members of the Golden State Mutual Life Alumni Association (former GSM, officers, employees and agents, as well as their families)
· SCLARC (the South Central Los Angeles Regional Center, the new primary tenant of the GSM building, and one of its owners)
· The Bedford Group (a Los Angeles developer) and
· UCLA

GSMLF presented a solid and feasible plan to save and preserve the GSM assets with dignity, while maximizing the return to the company’s creditors and minimizing disputes over the assets’ ownership. Although the CLO has ostensibly depicted themselves as a friend to GSM, its creditors and the community, its actions show quite the opposite. In theory, it is required to champion the people by marshaling the highest dollar amount for the assets that they’ve seized. GSMLF’s proposal addressed raising the funds needed for fair market value sales, the assets’ preservation requirements, and took into account the needs of all concerned parties.

The CLO has rejected GSMLF’s offer, ignored our community and the City of Los Angeles, and is partnering with two entities, The Smithsonian and UCLA – neither of which maximizes the value to be received from the assets, or is it best qualified to oversee the preservation of GSM’s legacy.

The Nickerson family is personally opposed to UCLA having ownership and control over our grandfather’s items. A good example of one of these personal belongings would be the scrapbook that he kept, that is presently in the possession of the CLO. Inside of this book is the actual train ticket that Mr. Nickerson purchased to rent a private box car in which to transport his family with eight children from Houston, Texas to Los Angeles, California…. the reason? …. for protection shortly after the KKK (Ku Klux Klan) had burned a cross on their front lawn for selling insurance policies in his community and of course…. for being Black while doing this! If the CLO is successful on Monday, the GSM founding family would have to seek UCLA’s permission in order to view these items. If there ever was an example of “putting the cart before the horse,” this would be it.

Next Monday we will oppose the CLO’s filings in court, and meet them with our competent and well-qualified counsel to level the playing field, and to thwart the CLO’s attempt to dilute our history under the guise of its statutory duty. Although they may have broken no laws, they’re blatant manipulation of it is not only outrageous but it is shameful.

We need your presence at this very important stand, and invite you to join us next Monday and witness history, exposure, and victory.

When: March 28, 2011
9:30 AM
Where: Los Angeles Superior Court
Honorable Ann I. Jones
Dept. 86
111 N. Hill Street
Los Angeles, CA. 90012

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End of An Era, Rebirth of a Legacy

End of an era……………..

 The Nickerson family celebrated the life of Eloise Nickerson Ford, as well as the end of an era and the rebirth of a legacy. Eloise was the last surviving child of the Golden State Mutual company founder, William Nickerson Jr. She passed away Saturday, August 21, 2010 in the comfort of her home in Los Angeles at the age of 95. As a young girl, she  was lovingly placed in a private train car along with seven other brothers and sisters, by their mother (Bertha) and father, in order to safely transport the family from Houston, Texas to Los Angeles, California. This action was prompted by William Nickerson Jr. after the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross on his front lawn, in anger that he dare try to sell

Black folk life insurance policies in Texas. Eloise lived a full and safe life in the city of Los Angeles and has gone ahead to be with the Lord. May she rest in peace as the next generation gets ready to solidify and embrace the history that this family has set forth before us.

 Rebirth of a legacy……………..

 On July 27th, the grandson of the founder of golden State Mutual Life Insurance company (GSM), Van A. Nickerson, was contacted from a close friend about the impending auction of precious art, documents, historical materials, and artifacts of the company due to the fact that GSM is in receivership by the State of California.  This action was and is spearheaded by the office of the State Commissioner of Insurance, Steve Poizner.

 Mr. Nickerson forwarded this shocking information to family members and an immediate meeting was held.

 A campaign to stop this auction process was launched to stop it before or by the designated July 31st deadline.  This effort to raise the community’s awareness of the potential travesty was successful in several ways:

 1.  No one of significance, the GSM founding family – the Nickersons, nor the community and/or leaders that GSM served, knew anything about the selling off of its history and the State’s plan to dismantle the GSM Company.  Now, it is known by many and support to consider other options are growing.

2.  Taking on the task of conducting massive awareness thru an information campaign was initiated by Van Nickerson.  Its purpose was to educate and stop the auction by the use of internet and telephone calling.  Specific instructions were given to call the State Commissioner’s office and to register a complaint to stop this auction.

3.   Persons that DID respond by phone and US mail with concern and ideas have been such individuals as: Congresswoman Diane E. Watson, Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, Senator Curren Price, Councilman Herb J. Wesson Jr., and many more. The local community lit up the phones at the Commissioner’s office.  The good news was that we were able to gain more time in which to seek a better resolve. The not so good news is that the State somehow corralled or captured all the protest caller’s phone numbers and used these numbers to get their bids in by this new deadline of August 31st. Of course the logic being to generate more participants with cash in which to “sell off” our history.

 On the State level, the Nickerson family made a formal request with the State representatives David Wilson and Scott Pierce to stop this procedure and to give us and the community more time to rally awareness and money. To date, no reversal of their plan has been forth coming by the State.

 If you are Black or Brown and a Los “Angelino,” meaning that you were born or lived in the city of Los Angeles from the 1920’s thru the 1960’s, chances are you and/or your family were touched in a positive way, by the era of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company. Today, the State of California Commissioner of Insurance deadline

for the auction bids has passed (August 31, 2010). They are now pondering on how to divide up and disperse our earned and rightful place in Black Los Angeles history, in order to satisfy a monetary debt. This debt was incurred by poor management practices of the previous administration.

It is up to us, the family, friends and growing number of new participants to make enough noise to shake up these state elected officials and let them know that THIS IS AN ELECTION YEAR! and their decisions that they are making now will affect their return to office and how noble their exit will be.

Letters and phone calls will be needed to be made to those in office so, please reveal your contact information so that we may notify you when that time is near. 

Find out how you can send a message to these officials such as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the State Commissioner of Insurance, Mr. Steve Poizner, by logging on to:   http://www.williamnickersonjrproject.com/.  

The William Nickerson Jr. Legacy, which includes the GSM art, historical materials and artifacts must remain intact and in the city of Los Angeles.  This story of the founder and this company is a unique one of a Black American success that has significantly impacted

the community and the city of Los Angeles since 1925.

If you would like to know the life story in brief of William Nickerson Jr. and the founding of GSM, you may email Mr. Nickerson at: vannickerson@mail.com and he will forward to you that story with photos.

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WILLIAM NICKERSON, JR. 1879-1945

By Kim Nickerson

William Nickerson, Jr., was a pioneer and entrepreneur of Black business in Los Angeles, and an enthusiastic visionary, a humanitarian and motivator to many African Americans.  He was the founder and first president of Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, the first African American life insurance company on the west coast and the largest African American life insurance company in the state of California.

William Nickerson, Jr., was born on a farm in San Jacinto County, Texas, on January 26, 1879, to William Nickerson, Sr. and Emma Poole.  His father and mother were born into slavery.  Nickerson was the only son and had three sisters.  As a boy he worked on the farm, raising cattle, chickens, and geese; planting and harvesting corn, cotton, and sugar cane, except during the five months of the year when he would walk four miles over rough roads to school.  He loved to read and would read long into the night by the light of a kerosene lamp.  After graduating from high school, Nickerson entered Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, where he studied economics.  Later he received a Teacher’s Certificate from Prairie View College in Prairie View, Texas.  With his certification, Nickerson taught public school in San Jacinto County for four years.  In 1905 Nickerson went to work as an Underwriter for Southern Mutual Benefit Association, a white insurance company in Dallas.

He married Bertha B. Benton of Carthage, Texas in 1906.  Nickerson and his wife had eight children.  Nickerson soon left the school because of discrimination toward black teachers.  He was underpaid and could not support his family.  In 1908 he organized American Mutual Benefit Association of Houston, Texas.  With Nickerson’s hard work and determination, American Mutual grew and became known throughout the state as, “the most outstanding Negro business west of Chicago.”

In Houston, Texas, in the early 1900’s, there was only one black-owned newspaper.  Enterprising Nickerson saw a need and believed that black people should have more than one voice in the publishing world.  In 1916, he started the Houston Observer and later, along with Clifton F. Richardson and H. F. Edwards, organized the Informer Publishing Company to publish the Houston Informer in 1919.

After the Houston riots and World War I, Nickerson, a political activist, targeted the Democratic Primary System and brought suit against the Democratic Party functionary to permit black people the right to vote in May of 1921.  Soon after, Nickerson’s phone rang. It was the voice of a man who said, “Nickerson you and some other niggers dare to sue white people.  We understand that you are one of the leaders.  Tonight we are coming to get you.”  Nickerson informed his friends and they were prepared with rifles and guns in hand as they waited all night but no one ever came.  Mrs. Nickerson begged her husband, “Let’s leave Texas,” saying, “Take us to California. I would rather eat bread and drink water in a distant land and have peace than to be in a land like this where there is utter confusion and constant fear of violence.”

On June 11, 1921, Nickerson, his wife and eight children traveled by Southern Pacific Railway to California.  They arrived in Los Angeles, on June 13, 1921.  The next year, Nickerson organized a branch of American Mutual Benefit Association.  Under Nickerson’s management, the branch prospered.  He recognized a need for a life insurance company owned and controlled by black people in California.  In 1925, he founded Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company.  With humble beginnings he started the company in a small one room office at 1435 Central Avenue.  Golden State Mutual received its first charter on July 23, 1925 and immediately began offering life, endowment, and health and accident insurance to the community regardless of race or color.  Among the original officers of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company were William Nickerson, Jr., (President), George A. Beavers, Jr. (Vice President), and Norman O. Houston (Secretary/Treasurer).

In the 1930’s, convincing black Americans to buy life insurance in the time of a depressed economy was not an easy task.  When Nickerson, needed to recruit agents to the company, Nickerson used various methods to gain new agents.  He often used animal parables. His favorite was, “The Little Black Hen,” a story of perseverance.  Nickerson would confidently stand on desks, chairs, and sometimes even table tops to gain attention, persuade, and motivate.  In May 1939, Nickerson returned to Bishop College to receive an honorary degree in the field of Business.

In 1949, the famous African American architect, Paul Williams, designed the strikingly beautiful landmark we know today as the home office, located on Western Avenue and Adams Boulevard, in Los Angeles.  Congresswoman Maxine Waters, speaking at the 60th Anniversary Celebration of Golden Statue Mutual Life Insurance Company, said that “Golden State is a shining example of true economic development in our community.”              In 1955, the Nickerson Gardens Housing Development in Watts, 1,056 housing units built on 68 acres, was dedicated to Nickerson’s lifetime achievements.  The project served as a model for housing projects throughout the United States.

William Nickerson, Jr. died in 1945 at the age of 66.  In addition to heart complications, Nickerson had contracted pneumonia.  Dearly loved by his family, business associates and employees, Los Angeles mourned.

Kim Nickerson, is the youngest grandchild of William Nickerson, Jr., an actress/poet and 1985 UCLA graduate.  Kim currently works in Los Angeles as a Special Education “substitute teacher.”

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