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Wall St. and Business Wednesdays: The 8 Candidates For The Black-Owned Bank "Business and Building" Initiative

It is our great honor to present an important status report on the Black-Owned Bank "Business and Building" Initiative. Please read what follows carefully, sign up (if you haven't already) and spread the word to others. We are determined to make this a total success.


As you may recall, a little over 45 days ago we told our viewers that we will be profiling and prospecting Black-owned banks across the country and putting out feelers to see who among them is interested in discussing, negotiating, and competing for our dollars. We have made our word bond and in the next few days will be contacting those who signed up in support of the Black-Owned Bank and Investment Club Initiative.

We have identified eight Black-owned banks that we believe could potentially meet our expectations and have provided a brief overview of their histories. We have also provided the web links just in case you wanted to carry out your own examination in more detail. These banks are located in Atlanta, GA, Boston, MA, Chicago, IL, Kansas City, MO, Los Angeles, CA, New York, NY, Tuskegee, AL, and Washington, DC. It is our belief that this initial eight will give us a starting point, which we could always expand at a later date. We have identified the five-point criterion that was used in selecting these banks, and have outlined the next steps required to successfully implement this Initiative.

Remember, the problem is not only access to capital, but the pooling, aggregation and intermediation of capital, at an indigenous level.


1. Bank: Broadway Federal Bank
Location: Los Angeles, California
Ticker: BYFC (Nasdaq)

Broadway Federal Bank was founded in 1946 by a group of civic minded men and women seeking to provide lending and depository services to a community not served by the existing financial institutions. The Bank received its' Federal Charter on November 25, 1946 and welcomed its first savers on January 11, 1947. Boasting an initial investment of $150,000, the facilities consisted of a three-room office at 4329 South Broadway. Broadway has continued to fulfill that mission, and to provide training for minorities entering the financial industry. Broadway Federal Bank has a family legacy—three generations of leadership and community involvement from grandfather, to father, to son. Our legacy extends to the community we serve, by contributing to its economic, social and political development for over half a century. And, the legacy continues. The Bank’s mission is to serve the real estate, business and financial needs of customers in underserved urban communities with a commitment to excellent service, profitability and sustained growth. It also has a broader commitment to employ, train and mentor community residents, to contract for services with community businesses, and to encourage its management and staff to serve as volunteers in civic, community and religious organizations. The Bank and its employees will be outstanding corporate citizens by giving back to the communities we serve, with our time, expertise and financial resources. As of December 31, 2006, the Bank had total assets of $300,994,757, total deposits of $221,467,369, and total loans of $247,656,782.

2. Bank: Carver Bancorp Inc.
Location: New York, New York
Ticker: CNY (Amex)

George Washington Carver was born of slave parents in Missouri in 1865. Despite a difficult childhood, Carver overcame many obstacles throughout his life to become a world-renowned agricultural researcher and scientist. Carver Federal Savings Bank is proud to have followed in the footsteps of its namesake, a dedicated man who used his vocation to improve the economic status of his community and race. On November 5, 1948, civic-minded citizens joined forces to obtain a federal banking charter. On January 5, 1949 (the birthday of George Washington Carver), Carver Federal Savings and Loan Association formally began operations at 53 West 125th Street, with one employee. On January 12, 1952, the Bank moved to larger quarters at 75 West 125th Street. From inception, the Bank has provided local residents a place to save and to obtain mortgages to buy homes in their own communities. Carver is the largest financial institution in the United States run by African- and Caribbean-Americans for African- and Caribbean-Americans. Carver Bancorp, Inc is the holding company of Carver Federal Savings Bank, a federally charted savings bank. As of December 31, 2006, the Bank had total assets of $661,000,000, total deposits of $504,600,000, and total loans of $493,400,000.

3. Bank Name: Citizens Trust Bank
Location: Atlanta, Georgia

In 1919 a group of five foresighted men envisioned a bank which would primarily serve the black citizens of Atlanta. This vision emerged after Heman Perry attempted to be fitted for a pair of socks at a white owned store and was refused. Determined to provide access to capital so that Black business men could own and operate independently of white owned companies, these "Fervent Five" (the organizing committee for the bank), led by Perry (chairman), James A. Robinson (secretary), Thomas J. Ferguson, William H. King and Henry C. Dugas, pooled their time, money and resources to develop a bank which would offer its customers improved financial security. The intense national drive to sell stock for the creation of Citizens Trust Company spanned both rural and urban America. On August 16, 1921 the doors of Citizens Trust Company opened on "Sweet" Auburn Avenue. In 1933, Citizens Trust became the first African American owned bank in the United States to become a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). In 1947, Citizens Trust Bank was asked to become the first African American owned Bank in the United States of America to become a member of the Federal Reserve Bank. The Bank is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and operates ten branch offices located in Atlanta, East Point, Lithonia, Decatur, Stone Mountain and Columbus, Georgia, and Birmingham and Eutaw, Alabama. Over the years, the Bank has continued to grow and increase its reach through mergers and acquisitions. As of December 31, 2005, the Bank had total assets of $328,581, 000, total deposits of $254,669,000, and total loans of $218,972,000.

4. Bank Name: Douglass National Bank
Location: Kansas City, Missouri

Douglass National Bank dates its origins to the 1940s when a group of businessmen had a vision and formulated a plan to open the first minority-owned bank in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. Henry W. Sewing founded the bank with a commitment to provide banking services to people of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds and especially to those whose needs were not being met by other established banks at the time. The bank opened in 1947. The original Douglass State Bank, located on Fifth Street in Kansas City, Kan., was named after Frederick Douglass, the famed 19th century abolitionist and orator. In 1994, Douglass purchased a branch of Franklin Federal Savings located at 4655 State Avenue in Kansas City, Kan. In 1996, Douglass converted a loan production office in Kansas City, Mo., into a full service bank, near 63rd and Paseo. In 2001, Douglass relocated its mid-town Kansas bank to a new facility at 48th and State Avenue. Through the years, Douglass has maintained a strong banking association with African American churches throughout the metropolitan area. The bank prides itself in expertise in financial services related to affordable housing, small businesses and retail banking (home and auto loans). Today, with over $68 million in assets and more than $64 million in deposits (as of Dec. 31, 2006), Douglass continues its proud tradition of service as a community development bank-a bank with a primary mission and a social purpose of promoting community development. In addition to its full range of banking services, Douglass provides financial services and lending, promotes consumer education and works to revitalize distressed inner city communities. Douglass is one of 52 certified community development financial institutions in the country.

5. Bank Name: First Tuskegee Bank
Location: Tuskegee, Alabama

When our predecessor institution, Tuskegee Cooperative Building and Loan Association, was first chartered in 1894 it was housed in a classroom on the campus of Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. The institution changed its name to Tuskegee Savings and Loan Association in April of 1941. In 1952, a second name change occurred and it became known as Tuskegee Federal Savings and Loan Association ("FSLA").

When TFSLA became insolvent in 1990, Resolution Trust Corporation (“RTC") placed it in conservatorship. In October of the following year, First Tuskegee Bank (“FTB") – a state chartered, full service commercial bank – assumed certain liabilities and purchased selected assets of the former TFSLA from the RTC. Thus, First Tuskegee Bank became part of the chain, which is identified as one of the oldest continuously operating minority owned-and-operated financial institutions in the country!

First Tuskegee Bank has continually strived to provide quality products and services to the communities it serves. It prides itself on its status as a community business and actively targets lending projects that address important community needs such as low-to-moderate income housing, the construction of elderly care centers and access to SBA loans. In addition, the Bank is building a growing reputation as a major source for church lending the Montgomery-Macon County areas where its branches are located. Its efforts to provide more affordable housing options have led to a partnership with Fannie Mae. Furthermore, its Secured VISA¸ Classic Credit Card offers consumers of various ages and financial circumstances an opportunity to establish – or re-establish – healthy credit histories.

6. Bank Name: Illinois Service Federal
Location: Chicago, Illinois

Thirteen African-American men, and their many supporters, had a dream to establish a savings and loan association sensitive to the needs of Black residents of Chicago. From the beginning, they worked closely with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, drawing heavily on the experience and advice of that Federal agency. The founders also enlisted the counsel of savings and loan executives with "general market" experience who were sympathetic to the cause. It was common knowledge that this endeavor was to be complex and even tedious; one that would take careful planning and a single-minded focus on the dream. Their persistence paid-off when in 1934, Illinois Service Federal was founded.

The doors opened to a one-room office on 70 East 47th Street with deposits of $7,000.00. The first few depositors had balances ranging from $4.00 to $50.00. Our first employees were women who established a sound foundation for success as a well-run, professional association. Quickly, the black churches, businesses and the community in general recognized the value of a black owned and managed S&L and began to make deposits in earnest. As assets grew, so did our ability to help the local communities grow and prosper.

We have continued to grow and prosper. In the fall of 2000, we opened a new, state-of-the-art facility at 8700 S. King Drive. In combination with the main branch at 4619 S. King Drive the association today serves over 14,000 customers and has assets of more than $133 million dollars.

7. Bank Name: Independence Federal
Location: Washington, D.C.
Ticker: IFSB (Nasdaq)

Founded in 1968, Independence saw the need for a financial institution that was committed to serving all segments of the population. Within a very short time, Independence received national recognition for its commitment to its founding principle: "The credit worthiness of each individual should be judged on merit, not race, sex, age or country of origin."

Today, with assets of approximately $160,000,000, we have made home ownership possible for more than 5,000 families, and have enabled more than 43,000 students to attend the colleges of their choice.

8. Bank Name: OneUnited Bank
Location: Boston, Massachusetts

OneUnited Bank is fulfilling the hundred year old civil rights dream by garnering the savings power of our communities and channeling it back into urban communities for economic development. OneUnited Bank is the first Black-owned internet bank, the first Black-owned interstate bank and the largest Black-owned and managed bank in the country with offices in urban communities of California, Florida and Massachusetts. OneUnited was founded with the mission to encourage and educate Black America to make financially literate decisions by purposefully recycling Black dollars and mobilizing Black capital. The Bank has created a mechanism to garner Black America’s spending power by combining the Bank’s capacity to process billions of dollars in transactions with the ability for the Black community to open accounts and engage in financial transactions, not only at bank locations in Miami, Boston, and Los Angeles, but nationwide, online at In 2004, 2005, and 2006, we were awarded the highest Bank Enterprise Award by the U.S. Department of Treasury for our community development lending. We are a designated Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). The Bank began almost 50 year ago with the opening of Unity Bank & Trust in Boston, Massachusetts. OneUnited Bank was established by combining Black-owned banks across the country with the same mission -Founders National Bank of Commerce in Los Angeles, Family Savings Bank in Los Angeles, Peoples National Bank of Commerce in Miami and Boston Bank of Commerce (the predecessor to OneUnited Bank) - to create the fastest growing and premier bank in America serving urban communities. OneUnited Bank plans to continue to expand its branch network by acquiring financial services companies that share its mission and opening new or de novo branches and stand-alone automated teller machine centers in urban communities. OneUnited Bank introduced its internet branch in February 2006 to attract customers nationwide who support its mission. The OneUnited Bank vision is to unite urban communities across America and build wealth. As an FDIC insured institution, with state-of-the-art technology, a dedicated and experienced branch staff and loan officers who know customers by name, with over a half a billion dollars in assets and locations from coast-to-coast, the Bank is ready to serve.


The “Business and Investment” Initiative Team has created a five-point criterion in order to aid us in the decision-making process. The eight Black-owned banks will be measured using these criteria. In the event that a particular bank does not measure up, it will be eliminated from our list. Our goal is to find the best match.

- Accountability

According to economist Reuven Brenner, prosperity is "matching talent with capital, and holding both sides accountable." In this regard, we intend to hold the banks that participate in this Initiative to a high standard. The credibility of is on the line. We plan to clearly articulate our objectives and expectations, and hold the leaders of the banks accountable to ensure that the agreed upon objectives are met.

- Transparency

Three of the banks selected for this Initiative are publicly traded companies. With this comes the ability to purchase shares of these companies and attend shareholder meetings of these companies and make our voices be heard. Additionally, we will have the ability to review the quarterly reports of these companies, allowing us to monitor their financial performance.

- Size

In selecting banks for our initiative, we considered the size of the bank to be an important criterion. As indicated in the bank profile section, we have banks with total assets ranging from 60,000,000 to 661,000,000 on our list.

- Community Development and Relations

Banks selected have a proven track record of working to empower the communities in which they do business. The Banks on our list have a commitment to employ, train and mentor community residents, to contract for services with community businesses, and to encourage its management and staff to serve as volunteers in civic, community and religious organizations. We expect full access to review opportunities for investment in the bank’s portfolio and in the community that is home to that bank. We expect the banks to continue in their involvement in community development and have a healthy relationship with communities in need.

- Institutional Solvency

Banks selected for this Initiative are expected to operate in a financially responsible manner. We expect deposits to be protected and systemic stability to be promoted. Furthermore, we expect the banking institution to operate within the framework of traditional banking business.


Does the bank have online banking capacity?

Is the bank publicly traded?

What is the percentage of minority ownership?

Are the interest rates competitive?

How many board members are minorities or women?


The next step in this process is to identify committed visitors to act as our people on the street. These BEC members should reside in the communities in which the selected banks do business. These members will be expected to visit the branches, present the Initiative to bank managers, and gather key information that would be used in the rollout process. They are expected to become familiar with the services that the bank provides, meet with branch managers, determine the bank’s willingness to participate in the Initiative, etc. These actions will culminate in deposits made into each of the banks selected at the beginning of July.

Let's go! We have serious work to do and business to conduct.

If you are interested in playing such a described leadership role, please shoot us an e-mail at

Samuel A. Souvenir and Raghib M. Muhammad

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

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The views and opinions expressed herein by the author do not necessarily represent the opinions or position of or Black Electorate Communications.

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