Treasury Department commemorates 150th anniversary of Freedman’s Bank

Liberty Bank and Trust Company President Alden McDonald delivered keynote remarks at a U.S. Treasury Department ceremony commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (Freedman’s Bank). At the event, the U.S. Treasury dedicated the Treasury Annex Building as the “Freedman’s Bank Building”.

The building stands on the site of the original Freedman’s Bank that was created to help newly emancipated slaves integrate into the nation’s economy.

“It is a special treat for me to be a part of this history making event because on Monday I celebrate 50 years of involvement in the banking industry,” said Alden McDonald in his remarks in the Cash Room at Treasury. “To be able to stand before you to share that bank’s history makes this a very special moment for me.” In his comments, McDonald talked about the tradition of “inclusive prosperity” in the history of this country and pointed out that the establishment of the Freedman’s Bank following the Civil War was one of the more inspiring efforts aimed at developing a stable,

diverse middle class and lessening the disparity between rich and poor Americans. “From 1888 to 1934 African Americans owned more than 130 banks in the U.S. and the number of black owned businesses rose from 4,000 to 50,000,” said McDonald, “Liberty was founded in 1972, following what I like to call the second Civil War – The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.”

Today, there are approximately 25 African American owned institutions in the United States, including Liberty Bank and Trust. During the great recession of 2008, these institutions served some of the most economically challenged markets in the country. McDonald affirmed that African-American financial institutions continue to face challenges relative to earnings, capital, and costs, but many continue to improve and have been very successful in serving the African-American populations and low-and moderate-income Americans.

“We have learned how to effectively serve disadvantaged communities, build credit worthiness, and expand economic opportunity for small businesses and young professionals,” continued McDonald, “and we understand that we have to be engaged in providing greater social, political and economic opportunities for the people we serve.” McDonald concluded his speech challenging the Treasury Department, members of Congress and other guest to continue the quest for inclusive prosperity, “We are stewards of a sacred American legacy that every man and woman has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Let’s make future generations proud of what we accomplish together.”

The Freedman’s Bank was established in 1865 to create an opportunity for wealth-building among the nation’s four million newly emancipated African-Americans. During its nearly 10-year existence, approximately 100,000 African-American individuals and institutions amassed $57 million (equivalent to $115 Billon today) in the bank’s Washington, D.C. headquarters and its branches in 37 cities across 17 states. Despite the closing of the Freedman’s Bank in 1874, it remains a significant part of American history and this event will highlight the historical significance of the bank and its original mission – to promote economic integration and financial inclusion.

By Terry Jones
Data Newsweekly

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