Black-owned banks and founders have a long and important history in the United States, dating back to the early 19th century.
During that time, many states passed laws prohibiting Black people from accessing traditional financial institutions, which led to the emergence of community-based financial institutions.
The first Black-owned bank in the United States was the Savings Bank of the Grand Fountain United Order of the True Reformers, which was founded in Richmond, Virginia, in 1888. The bank was established by the True Reformers, a Black fraternal organization, to provide financial services to its members and the wider Black community.
Other Black-owned banks were established in the following decades, including the Capital Savings Bank in Washington, D.C., which was founded in 1889, and the Citizens Savings Bank in Nashville, Tennessee, which was founded in 1904.
During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Black-owned banks played a critical role in providing financial support to the movement and its leaders. For example, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders kept their personal accounts at Black-owned banks, and these banks provided loans and other financial support to civil rights organizations.
Today, there are over 20 Black-owned banks in the United States, with assets totaling over $5 billion. These banks continue to provide vital financial services to underserved communities and play an important role in promoting economic empowerment and financial inclusion.
Here are 10 Black bank founders who have made significant contributions to the banking industry:
- Maggie Lena Walker – Walker was the first Black woman to charter a bank in the United States. She founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in Richmond, Virginia, in 1903.
- Althea L. Waters – Waters was the founder and president of the Black-owned Unity Bank and Trust Company in Boston, Massachusetts, which opened its doors in 1963.
- John W. Rogers Jr. – Rogers is the founder and CEO of Ariel Investments, one of the largest Black-owned money management firms in the United States. He also serves as the chairman of the board of directors of the Chicago Urban League.
- William T. Coleman Jr. – Coleman was the founder and chairman of the board of directors of the Independence Bank of Chicago, which was one of the largest Black-owned banks in the United States before it closed in the 1980s.
- Preston D. Pinkett III – Pinkett is the founder and CEO of City National Bank, the largest Black-owned bank in the United States. The bank is based in Newark, New Jersey, and has branches in several states.
- Robert James – James is the founder and CEO of the Carver State Bank in Savannah, Georgia. The bank was founded in 1927 and is one of the oldest Black-owned banks in the United States.
- Michael Grant – Grant is the founder and CEO of the National Bankers Association, which is the largest trade organization for Black-owned banks in the United States. He is also the president and CEO of New Millennium Bank.
- Howard L. Fuller – Fuller was the founder and president of the Malcolm X Liberation University in Durham, North Carolina, and the co-founder of the National Black Economic Development Conference. He also served as the chairman of the board of directors of the Independence Bank of Chicago.
- Kenneth Kelly – Kelly is the chairman and CEO of First Independence Bank, which is based in Detroit, Michigan. The bank was founded in 1970 and is one of the largest Black-owned banks in the United States.
- Teri Williams – Williams is the president and CEO of OneUnited Bank, the largest Black-owned bank in the country. The bank is based in Boston, Massachusetts, and has branches in several states.