American history is not always the most enlightening subject for some. Black Americans learn from an early age the struggles they’ve dealt with for hundreds of years. Even today, people of color are distrustful of various institutions. Their mistrust is justified by the historical behavior dealt by banking institutions of the past. Although history cannot be erased, nor should it, many Black Americans can now trust banks to secure their financial needs.
The History of Black Americans and Banking
The 13th Amendment abolished slavery. However, that was just the beginning of a long battle many are still fighting today. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company in 1865. The company’s objective was to help formerly enslaved people adapt to their freedom—the act’s intentions set for free black men to succeed in America. Black Americans began to experience hope with their new freedom.
Black Americans began to use the Freedman’s banking system to secure their money. The plan was a massive success as it provided financial needs to black men and increased black property ownership. Unfortunately, it was a short celebration. The banks established too many buildings too fast, resulting in its downfall. Too many resources were used to create the banks without enough money. Then in 1874, the bank was shut down.
History Repeats Itself
Freedman’s bank was only the beginning of the mistreatment of black Americans. The federal government adopted the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation in 1933, which allowed Americans to refinance their home mortgages. However, the government refused loans to any ethnic group with a “redlined” demographic. A redline marked a clear area between ethnic and white communities.
The government did not allow black families a chance to take a loan from banks. Alternatively, banks throughout the years continued to discriminate against black Americans and deny loans. Although laws prohibit such behavior, it still leaves black America untrustworthy of bank institutions.
A Bright Future
Thankfully, black Americans are excelling in life, business, and politics. Due to their success, they have operated and worked with banks so that others can trust in their abilities. Black men such as Kevin Cohee are changing the world, as he is the CEO of the most prominent black-owned internet bank in America. America still has a long way to go before systematic racism has ended. However, some banks want to see black men, women, and families succeed.
It’s time to trust the banks again. Not to erase what was done in the past but to find a better future for black Americans. There is still so much work to do. But, it’s okay to celebrate the fantastic achievements people of color have made throughout history.