By Ryan Velez
Black Enterprise has just started their massive “45 Great Moments in Black Business” series of articles. Designed to commemorate the 45th anniversary of Black Enterprise’s iconic BE100s yearly list of the largest Black-owned companies, this series will share 45 milestones in Black business over the last four decades. To start off their list, Black Enterprise is writing about the #BankBlack movement, which swept the country and put a new perspective on what black wealth really could be.
A flashpoint of the movement came from an unlikely source. “I’m angry, hurt, disgusted, and ashamed to be a part of this country,” rapper Killer Mike boldly declared in an interview on Atlanta’s Hot 107.9 radio station last July, responding to the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in a St. Paul, Minnesota suburb that grabbed national attention. “It is time to get angry and do something…You can go to your bank tomorrow and say, ‘Until you as a corporation speak on our behalf, I’m taking all my money to Citizens Trust.” Killer Mike’s plea would end up resonating with many, as Atlanta’s largest Black bank Citizens Trust (No. 5 on the BE BANKS list with $396 million in assets) gained an additional 8,000 depositors within five days. This call to support Black banks would end up gaining many more voices, including celebrities like Usher and Solange Knowles as well as countless grassroots activists.
Currently, Black Enterprise provides a ranking of 15 Black banks with $4.639 billion in total assets and collectively 1,117 employees. The #BankBlack movement has done a lot to explain why we need more of them and the special purposes they serve. One example is combating loan discrimination. BE contributor Jared Brown cited a study conducted by academicians at Brigham Young University, Rutgers University, and Utah State University. The study concluded that Black and Latino business owners were provided far less information about loan terms, offered less application help by loan officers, less frequently handed a business card, and asked more questions about their personal finances.
At the 2017 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit, Ann Duplessis, senior vice president of Liberty Bank (No. 3 on the BE BANKS List with $622 million in assets) asserted: “We understand the issues that entrepreneurs of color face, and we can work with you to fix that. We also help Black businesses get access to capital.” Teri Williams of OneUnited Bank (No. 2 on the BE BANKS List with $655 million in assets), added that “unapologetically black” institutions address the needs of black communities unlike majority banks. Be sure to keep posted for future highlights from the “45 Great Moments” series.