Why We Still Need Black-Owned Banks

By Monique Morris, NAACP Vice President for Economic Programs

Cross-Posted from TheGrio.Com

Since the 19th Century, African-American-owned banks have played a vital role in the economic development of our communities. Between 1888 and 1934, there were more than 130 U.S. banks owned by African-Americans, which is believed to have been the force behind the explosion of African-American businesses, which grew from 4,000 in 1867 to approximately 50,000 by 1917. While the 1960s produced a growing number of African-American banks, by the 1980s, many of them had failed. Today, according to a March 2010 Federal Reserve Board report, only 30 U.S. banks are owned by African-Americans.

The structural exclusion of African-Americans from the mainstream economic sphere led black entrepreneurs to build their own financial infrastructure to support the economic development of our communities, but the dramatic decline in the number of black-owned banks has led many to question the role of African-American-owned banks in revitalizing our neighborhoods today.