Brother Norris Herndon was born in #Atlanta #Georgia, on July 15, 1897, the only child of Adrienne Elizabeth McNeil, a graduate and teacher at Atlanta University, and Alonzo Herndon. He was educated in Atlanta’s public school system. Herndon’s early education was in the Atlanta Public School System. In 1905 Alonzo Herndon took seven-year-old Norris to the founding meeting of the #NiagaraMovement, the precursor organization to #NAACP started by #WEBDubois.
In 1919 Herndon graduated from Atlanta University. He then obtained a Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard University’s Business School in Massachusetts in 1921. He was one of the only two African Americans in his graduating class. Young Herndon joined his father’s firm, first as a cashier and then eventually as the company’s first vice president. Norris Bumstead Herndon was the second president of the #AtlantaLifeInsuranceCompany, founded by his father, Alonzo Herndon.
When he took the helm, company assets totaled just over $1 million, but through decades of cautious management and prudent investments including some significant acquisitions, Atlanta Life’s assets grew to $54 million. At the time of Herndon’s retirement in 1973, Atlanta Life had grown to a company with assets of $84 million.
Herndon established the Alonzo F. and Norris B. Herndon Foundation, a charitable trust which today operates the Herndon Home as a museum, recounting the family’s rise from slavery to business leaders in the nation’s African American community.
Herndon also gave generously to the #UnitedNegroCollegeFund, the local African American #YMCA, Atlanta University, #MorrisBrown College,First Congregational Church in Atlanta, the #NationalUrbanLeague, the NAACP, as well as many other organizations. In 1948 he donated the land on which #AtlantaUniversity’s Herndon Stadium sits, and the money to build the structure.
During school he worked at Atlanta Life, progressing from cashier to the Atlanta Life Insurance Company Board of Directors in 1919. Following his time at Atlanta University, Norris left Atlanta for Harvard University, where he would obtain his Masters of Business Administration degree in 1921.
Continuing his father’s legacy, Norris assumed control in 1928 over the enterprise his father began. In the almost 50 years following until his death in 1977, Norris guided Atlanta Life through a “Gilded Age” period of growth and prosperity. Under Norris’ watch, the company that started as a result of his father buying out benevolence funds from small black churches would rise into one of the largest black-owned insurance corporations in the country. As President of Atlanta Life, Norris would amass a fortune estimated at more than 100 million dollars.
With this considerable wealth, Norris funded numerous philanthropic purposes, both at home and abroad. Among other charitable endeavors, Norris established the Alonzo F. and Norris B. Herndon Foundation, Inc. Additionally, Norris was an important player during the turbulent civil rights movement, and allocated money to civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. as part of the further march towards equality. Norris was also instrumental in growing Morris Brown University with land and financial endowments.
Norris passed away at home in his bed on June 15, 1977. In the 80 years that Mr. Herndon lived, he embodied everything that his father envisioned for Black men. Educated, hard-working and humble, Norris’s life serves as a testament as to his father’s vision of African-American aspirations.
Bro Herndon was an active member of #DistrictGrandLodge18 of the Atlanta #GrandUnitedOrderofOddFellows as well as #AlphaPhiAlpha the first #bglo #fraternal organization for #AfricanAmerican men.
I just happened upon this searching for a brother up here ! #guoof #oddfellows #FLT
From blackpast.org and Herndonhome.org