On the same day the nation is set to honor Martin Luther King Jr., Black bankers are launching a drive to realize one of the civil rights leader’s final entreaties—for African Americans to embrace and enhance Black financial institutions.
In what they are labeling “The People’s Economic Movement,” the National Bankers Association (NBA) and syndicated radio talk show host Warren Ballentine, are mounting a drive to encourage minorities and other consumers in urban areas to bank with minority-owned banks.
The initiative comes amid concerns about the health of the U.S. economy, a roller-coaster period for the stock market and worries from economists that the nation may be on the verge of another economic recession when prices will be out of sync with income and money for investment and spending will be hard to come by.
“By investing their money in minority banks in their own communities, getting mortgages, small business loans or loans for college tuition from banks in their communities, consumers begin a process of harnessing the economic strength of the masses in a way that creates direct benefits to their communities which are still suffering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” said Michael Grant, president of NBA.
“Community economic development will only come with an intelligent and targeted approach to managing money,” Ballentine said during a week of wild swings of gains and losses on the stock market. . The call for Black patronage follows dire predictions. Economists from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Investment Advisor recently wrote that the U.S. and Europe are “dangerously close to recession,” Bloomberg Businessweek reported. “It won’t take much in the form of additional shocks to tip the balance,” they stated.
The NBA is a consortium of minority-owned banks that have branches in 29 different cities across the country and hold $15 billion in assets. The organization stated that African-American owned banks manage less than 5 percent of wealth in the communities they serve.