By Leah Mabery
Although the jury is still out on how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would respond to continuing police brutality and inequality in the Black community, it is clear that he was a fan of supporting Black-owned banks.
In his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, Dr. King said, “… [W]e’ve got to strengthen Black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank…. Put your money there.”
Black banks encouraged economic advancement by allowing Blacks to obtain loans to purchase homes and start businesses when Whites refused. At its height, there were over 50 Black banks and thousands of black credits unions and businesses.
Today there are approximately 23 Black banks with 150 branches having total assets of approximately $4.7 billion dollars. This is less than 1 percent of the $1.1 trillion annual spending power of the Black community.
While many look to Black Wall Street as what once was, Black Wall Street is attainable today. Black banks are still relevant for the same reasons as yesteryears.
Let us continue the rich legacy of Dr. King and others by increasing our collective wealth. With collective wealth, we can respond to the challenges facing Black communities today. Let’s rebuild Black Wall Street by supporting Black banking institutions. Black Wall Street is just one deposit away!