Download on Inland Empire Resident Leon Carrigan, Jr

Download on Inland Empire Resident Leon Carrigan, Jr

Leon Carrigan Jr

Leon Carrigan Jr

Longtime Inland Empire resident Leon Carrigan, Jr. is noted as the region’s first African American insurance agent in the Inland Empire. He recently spoke with local author, Jean Denny and gave an account of his life’s story:

Carrigan started an insurance agency under the umbrella of the Golden State Mutual Insurance Company, where Johnnie Cochran Sr., the father of the famed late attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr., was his immediate supervisor. However, Carrigan was the supervisor of Johnnie Cochran, Jr.

Carrigan trained and mentored many of the insurance agents under him and served as the district president of the San Bernardino County Life Underwriters. He had a staff of 30 people. “It was a real pleasure for me the get black people and other minorities a fair price on homeowner insurance when many of the major companies would over price minorities.” Carrigan remembers proudly when Golden State Insurance Company was the company black home and business owners sought, which he received many awards for his role in the growth of the company.

Carrigan was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and attended several colleges including Howard University. “Attending a black college was a great experience. It taught me to be proud of myself and race no matter where I went in this world,” Carrigan boasts. He then moved to the West Coast in 1960. Then he enrolled in and graduated from the Life Insurance Underwriters Council in the early 1970’s.

In a time when black owned businesses were small in number, he opened his first office in San Bernardino, California. “They didn’t have any black insurance agents in the Inland Empire back then,” he said. “Many people expected me to failed but God had another plan.” Carrigan said his district covered from Palm Springs to Pomona and from Victorville to Perris, CA.

In looking to those who were an inspiration to him in the past, he reflects on the many clergy here in the Inland Empire. The ministers in the Inland Empire who he says really helped him were: the late Dr. Harding T. Deon of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, Reverend Paul Mumford of New Joy Baptist Church, and Bishop Craig. W. Johnson of Cathedral of Praise Church, Reverend Jesse Wall of St. James Church, Reverend Coleman, and also Mrs. Dolores Jones-Johnson, a personal friend and sister in Christ. Perhaps that’s why he says, “I’ve always put the Lord first in my life.” Carrigan says he is a devout Christian who presently is a member of St. James Tabernacle Church in Riverside, CA.

“There is nothing I would change,” he said when asked whether there is anything he’d like to see changed in the Inland Empire today. He added, “I especially like the way Riverside embraces the Black History Parade every February; however, I don’t believe the parade was held last year due to lack of financial support, which was a sad situation.”

Carrigan has had his business offices not only in San Bernardino but also in Redlands and he even had one here in Riverside on University Avenue over twenty years ago.

Carrigan has been involved in the community and was a role model for youth and interacted with them at the Boys Club. He also got involved with students at the University of Redlands BSU.

A few years ago, Carrigan was the recipient of the Pacesetters Award for 2008 from the Riverside African American Historical Society.

Though Carrigan suffered a stroke a while ago, he says he still loves reading and writing in his free time. “I enjoy writing notes of encouragement to all of my friends and family.”

About The Author

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