In the aftermath of the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, African-Americans across the country have taken to the streets to demand justice for the slain men. While organized protests are one way to enact change, some Black Americans are opting to use their money instead — specifically by keeping it in their pockets.
Boycotts of various big name corporations have since begun, as Black folk work to put more of their money back into Black-owned businesses. One Atlanta bank in particular is already feeling the positive effects of this new effort.
Citizens Trust Bank, a Black-owned financial institution, is experiencing a surge in business, as over 8,000 new customers have opened accounts in the last five days, Black Main Street reports. That’s nearly $800,000, assuming that customers didn’t deposit more than $100 into their new accounts.
The bank, which has locations in Georgia and Alabama, posted the exciting news to their Instagram page Thursday, along with a message thanking customers for their support.
Rapper turned activist Killer Mike is one of many celebrities encouraging people to #BankBlack. Ever since his fiery July 7 radio interview with Hot 107.9’s Mz. Shyneka, over $1 million has been moved into Black-owned banks and credit unions.
In the nearly 14-minute interview, Killer Mike demanded that Black people take their money out of their current banks and put it into Citizen’s Trust until white banks begin addressing Black issues.
“Don’t spend a dollar on a dog that don’t speak up for you,” he said. “We need one million people in Atlanta to take $100 out of their existing account; put $100 into a Citizens Trust account. Let $100 million move into that. Take that $100 million and promise $15,000 to $18,000 in loans for Black businesses and small homes.”
Singer-songwriter Solange Knowles has also opted to move her money into a Black-owned bank and/or credit union. According to Atlanta Black Star, Knowles revealed the switch in an Instagram post last week, but did not name her new banker or previous banker.
“While I realize this is a very personal decision and thing to share, I’m proud to say I made that step today,” she wrote July 9. “Time to literally put my money where my mouth is.”
The post linked back to Knowles’ Saint Heron website, which provided a list of 20 Black-owned financial institutions around the country.
“I cannot vouch for any of these institutions,” she wrote. “But if you are interested in the information, @saintheron has posted the list.”
So why is banking Black so important? According to Atlanta Black Star, the Black bank has played a crucial role in funding Black entrepreneurs, businesses and institutions, ultimately sustaining the Black community. For example, the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company, founded in 1865, was established by Congress and the Freedman’s Bureau to help newly emancipated African-Americans.
Between 1888 and 1934, there were over 130 Black-owned banks in the U.S.; that number has since dropped to 22, Atlanta Black Star reports.
“There has been a decline in banks in general,” Teri Williams, the President and Chief Operating Officer of OneUnited Bank, the largest Black bank in the U.S., told ABS. “There also has been a decline in community banks that were the size of a lot of the Black banks that went out of business.”
National Bankers Association president Michael A. Grant asserts that while this new initiative isn’t an all-out boycott of majority banks, it’s still important that African-Americans support their own institutions and diversify how they handle their assets.
“I think it’s a very positive effort to get the community to step up and say look, nobody is going to support us if we don’t support ourselves,” Grant told ABS. “Let’s start giving support to our own institutions, let’s support our historically Black colleges, let’s support our businesses, let’s support our banks.”
“…If we’re going to be considered first-class citizens and respected in this country, we’re going to have to take control of our economic destiny,” he continued.
In the interest of keeping the Black dollar in the Black community, another group is urging African-Americans to shop exclusively at Black-owned businesses. According to The Huffington Post, African diaspora collective NON Worldwide is calling for “Black Friday in July” in which participants only support Black-owned businesses on July 15.
“It is important both locally and globally that we show how much Black Lives Matter by supporting Black Lives with our money,” the group wrote on its Facebook page. “This is an important factor in terms of taking steps towards generational healing and cleansing as well as a redirection of resources.”
Later in the post, organizers ask that participants let business owners and employees know why they chose to shop there and to also present them with a copy of the event flyer.
“Take pride in your task,” it continues. “It is a powerful act of Justice that will never be forgotten. This is a historical worldwide event. Plan your day accordingly. Thank you for your love, labor, and commitment to carrying out this devout act of social justice.”