Honoring Black History Month: Julius Casear Chappelle

In honor of Black History Month, we are highlighting the historic efforts of Julius Caesar Chappelle, a prominent Massachusetts state legislator in the 1800s. Chappelle was born enslaved, and while serving in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1884, introduced a bill prohibiting life insurers from using race as a factor in rates and coverage. Chappelle’s bill faced an uphill battle but it ultimately passed, and it inspired nine additional states to adopt the same legislation.

Chappelle faced several recounts throughout his career, as well as repeated acts of racism. Inspired by his mentor, Lewis Hayden, with whom Chappelle worked to register people to vote, he stood up to the blatant mistreatment and continued to fight for the rights of African-Americans. In addition to the insurance rating bill, he also promoted legislation against the exploitation of convict labor, and campaigned against Prohibition – which was supported by the Ku Klux Klan – and, while a member of the Republican State Committee, spoke in support of voting rights for African-Americans. He went on to become a prominent speaker.




Additional Resources:

Union Mutual blog: Honoring Black History Month: Pioneers in the Insurance Industry

Davies Group: Black History Month: Insurance Industry Trail Blazers

Rise Professionals: Black History Month Spotlight

Insurance & Financial Services: History of Black Americans in the Insurance Industry

The Hartford: February Milestones: Black History Month & the Insurance Industry

Wikipedia: Julius Caesar Chappelle