By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer,
Report for America Corps Member,
The Club of Baltimore, a Black male investment club, has been in existence for 91 years.
It was born in 1931 in the midst of segregation and the Great Depression. At that time, African Americans were not welcome in the predominantly White investment space.
“Black men had to be self-taught about investing,” said Charles W. Cephas Jr., member of The Club of Baltimore. “There were no investment houses that would welcome the Black dollar, you had to do it on your own.”
In spite of the financial crisis facing the country, 12 Black men, including former editor and publisher of the AFRO Carl Murphy, banded together to learn about investing and socialize with one another. Since the men were unable to meet at local restaurants, they met in each other’s homes.
Over the years the club underwent a series of name changes. It started as The Twelve Club and later changed to The Schoolmen Club, as most of its members were educators.
Today, it’s known simply as The Club of Baltimore, and former Title III Director at Morgan State University James Haynes serves as its president.
The goal of the club is to manage a diversified investment portfolio for the purpose of maximizing returns.
“It wasn’t a get rich quick scheme for overnight millionaires,” said Cephas Jr. “The plan was to manage the portfolio and minimize risk and to encourage the group to socialize members; support each other and their families; and to participate in civic, political, religious and charitable organizations.”
Membership in The Club of Baltimore is by invitation only. The men meet once a month to discuss their portfolio, which is managed by LPL Financial and an investment committee comprising several of The Club of Baltimore members.
The committee recommends investment opportunities, including stocks and bonds, and then, club members vote on whether or not to accept the recommendation. When a member chooses to resign from the club, they receive a payout based on the value of their contribution to the portfolio.
Haynes believes that The Club of Baltimore is the longest, continuous Black investment club in the U.S. But, the club’s longevity is not what he finds most striking.
“The thing that I find most significant about this club is that it was established in the middle of a depression, and Black men decided to come together and pool their resources in this manner to save money and protect their savings,” said Haynes.
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