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From the time African Americans were granted freedom from slavery, there were concerted and continuous efforts to change the economic fortunes and destinies of the race. In fact, shortly after slavery ended in 1865, Congress created one of the earliest financial institutions—the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (also known The Freedman’s Bank)—designed to aid the freed slaves in their transition from slavery to freedom.

Part of the goal by Northern abolitionists called for the creation of a Freedmen’s Bank to assist the ex-slaves in developing habits of financial responsibility.

According to the charter of the Freedman’s Bank, the money deposited was to be invested in “stocks, bonds, Treasury notes, or other securities of the United States.” Unlike a conventional bank, the Freedman’s Bank was forbidden to make loans. It operated as a sort of cooperative. Each depositor owned a share of the bank’s assets in proportion to his or her deposits. A board of 50 White trustees was named to manage the bank’s affairs.

Initially the bank was a success eventually growing to more than 30 branches in more than a dozen states and the District of Columbia as well as about 72,000 depositors.

But by 1874, massive fraud among upper management and among the board of directors had taken its toll on the bank. Additionally, economic instability brought by the Panic of 1873 coupled with the bank’s rapid expansion proved disastrous.

In March of that year, in an effort to reestablish confidence in the bank, its White trustees resigned, and the well-known and highly respected African American leader and abolitionist Frederick Douglass became the bank’s president.

Hoping to revive the bank, Douglass donated tens of thousands of dollars of his own money to shore up the declining institution. He also pleaded for Congress to intervene but to no avail. On June 29, 1874, the bank was officially closed with $2,993,790.68 due to 61,144 depositors.

But despite this calamity, African Americans remained determined to establish their own banking institutions. Jim Crow segregation made that a necessity. Between 1888 and 1934, Blacks owned more than 130 banks around the nation.

A contemporary effort by African Americans to support Black banks and by extension Black businesses has recently begun to spread across the country. Motivated in part by Atlanta rapper and activist Mike Render, better known as Killer Mike, who this year called into a radio show on Atlanta’s Hot 107.9 saying “I’m angry. I’m hurt. I’m disgusted. I’m ashamed to be of this country,” he said in the wake of the shootings by police of two African American men—Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. He went on to say, “you can go to your bank tomorrow and say ‘until you as a corporation start to speak out on our be—–half, I want all my money, and I’m taking all my money to Citizen’s Trust.”

According to various news sources, the Atlanta bank received more than 8,000 new deposit accounts in less than a week as a result of Render’s comments.

Render’s words coincided with a #bankBlack call launched online which prompted entertainers such as singer Solange Knowles and several Houston-area rappers to move their accounts. For example, in Michigan the only Black-owned bank in the state (First Independent) which operates three branches in Detroit reported that it had received more than 200 new deposits totaling about $200,000.

OneUnited Bank, the largest Black-owned bank in the nation, which has branches in California, Florida and Massachusetts, went on the offensive and created a challenge inviting individuals to open an account and invite 20 friends to do the same thing.

OneUnited attributed the increased traffic to its Internet banking division and more than $3 million in deposits to the call to action.

In the beginning, the #bankBlack movement did promote a transfer of funds into Black financial institutions, said Crystal Mitchell, co-director of L.A.-based Recycling Black Dollars (RBD), but according to a conversation she had with her banker at Broadway Federal Bank, it was a temporary boost.

The issue now is choice, explains Mitchell noting that in the days when Black Wall Street was developed, (1910-1921) African Americans had little choice.

“Now we have choices, and we always choose to go to others rather than seek out our own,” Mitchell contends.

In fact, there is an often quoted statistic that the dollar circulates only six hours in the Black community versus 28 times in the Asian community or nine times in the Hispanic community. According to Truth Be Told, a non-profit, non-partisan website and digital network, run and edited from Howard University’s Department of Media, Journalism and Film in the School of Communications, there is no truth to the statistic.

While the #bankBlack movement is new, Michael Grant president of the National Bankers Association points out that Blacks for decades were limited to doing business only with each other. He said that Render tapped into the economic frustration that Blacks have been experiencing. Those feelings also collided with the realities surrounding social justice.

“And one of the toxic side effects of integration was that it allowed more of our money to go outside the community. . . We were hemorrhaging; our dollars leave our community,” Grant said.

Getting African Americans to open an account in a Black bank causes a whole chain reaction, Grant pointed out, noting that it is more likely that as it starts to grow, that a Black business will be able to secure a loan from a Black bank. Additionally, he said growing businesses create jobs, and again there is a high likelihood that these jobs will be filled by African Americans.

While the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce, (USBC), is aware of the #bankBlack effort, the organization’s chief of staff David Smith says they are still waiting for the impact to manifest with its members.

Smith said moving your money to a Black bank is a “push in the right direction” but it must be coupled with building credit within the community.

And that is exactly what the USBC is working on. The organization on July 2 launched a credit card program at the Essence festival in conjunction with New Orleans-based Liberty Bank. This is part of their long-term ongoing effort to encourage Blacks to buy Black, and hire Black. The credit card features a 9.96 percent interest rate.

Smith also said that education on the importance of supporting Black businesses also needs to be a part of the effort.

Jamaican-born Marcus Mosiah Garvey—the king of encouraging people of African descent to understand how powerful and vital supporting Black businesses can be—created the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) after he had traveled around the world and found that Blacks owned nothing.

Determined to change that, Garvey created the UNIA, which at its height in 1926 had 6 million members in 1,100 chapters and 40 countries. Its motto was “Be Black, Buy Black, Think Black and all else will take care of itself.”

Operating on a principal of collaboration, Garvey convinced Blacks from around the world to invest in his vision. In the process, Garvey established a number businesses including the Negro World newspaper, and the Negro Factories Corporation (for which he raised $1 million in stock in 1919). The goal of this enterprise was to produce everything that a nation would need to be completely self sufficient.

Other enterprises Garvey established included a chain of grocery stores and restaurants, a steam laundry, tailor shops, a dressmaking shop, a millinery store, a hotel and doll factory. In New York City, he owned a fleet of trucks and employed more than 1,000 people.

His most famous venture was a shipping company, the Black Star Line. Also started in 1919, the line was to promote trade and transport passengers to Africa.

Black Star was financed by a $10 million investment collected in $5 stock increments from UNIA members and supporters.

Proceeds from stock sales also enabled Garvey to purchase three ships and in 1926 buy 66 acres of land, on which he established Liberty University.

A year after launching the shipping company, Garvey was able to draw more than 25,000 Blacks from all around the world to Madison Square Garden for the first UNIA Convention. That was the ultimate demonstration of the power of supporting Black business.

Similar actions need to be taken today, say Black business advocates. These need to be conscious and concerted efforts that move beyond being a trend, said Smith of the USBC. RBD’s Mitchell said that rather than spouting off the negatives associated with Black businesses, the actions should also include pointing out the high-quality African-American businesses already operating in a stand-up fashion and directing Black consumers to these companies.

There are a number of resources that do this including a resource guide that RBD has produced for the last 28 years and an newly available app by the USBC that enables folks to find the nearest Black-owned business.

And then, once they find the business it is critical that Black consumers spend their money there.

Maggie Anderson and her family documented their own journey in her 2013 book “Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy.”

The book was published successful African American professionals raising two daughters in a tiny suburb of Chicago felt uneasy over their good fortune. They felt most African Americans live in economically starved neighborhoods. Black wealth is about one tenth of White wealth, and Black businesses lag behind businesses of all other racial groups in every measure of success. One problem is that Black consumers—unlike consumers of other ethnicities—choose not to support Black-owned businesses. At the same time, most of the businesses in their communities are owned by outsiders.

So, on January 1, 2009 the Andersons embarked on a year-long public pledge to “buy Black.” They thought that by taking a stand, the Black community would be mobilized to exert its economic might. They thought that by exposing the issues, Americans of all races would see that economically empowering Black neighborhoods benefits society as a whole. But instead, the couple discovered that Blacks refused to support their own, and others condemned their experiment. Drawing on economic research and social history as well as her personal story, in the book, Anderson shows why the Black economy continues to suffer and issues a call to action to all of us to do our part to reverse this trend.

The Anderson’s experience has become a vital part of the growing conversation surrounding the need and value of supporting Black business.