The beginning of the year has not proven kind to African American owned banks in the past three years. To begin 2015, two African American owned banks closed their doors, followed by 2016 where North Milwaukee closed, and now Seaway Bank & Trust will exist in name only. Its deposits and assets were acquired in January 2017 by Sushil Patel, the president of the State Bank of Texas and part of the family that owns the acquiring bank. In an interview, Mr. Patel states on the potential dynamic of their ownership in the midst of the #BankBlack movement, “I’m not a black bank,” he says in an interview. “I’m not a white bank, but I’m definitely not a black bank.”
This means that within the last seven months as of January, $420 million in assets have been wiped from African American owned bank balance sheets. An amount that is equal to ten percent of all remaining African American owned bank assets. For perspective, US banks in total have approximately $15.3 trillion in assets. The loss of $1.5 trillion is an amount twice the initial size of the US bank bailout from the Great Recession. In other words, this hurts and it hurts bad.
For the full FDIC press release on Seaway Bank & Trust’s closure, click here.
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In 1905, what was to be the largest and most influential black newspaper in the country was born. The Chicago Defender began as a weekly newspaper and led an entire race to leave the oppressive South for a better life in the North. At the helm was one man with a vision and purpose and a slogan that said it all: American race prejudice must be destroyed. Robert Sengstacke Abbott began the Chicago Defender with 25¢ and a dream in his landladys kitchen. The Defender boasted a circulation of more than 230,000 nationally as the newspaper was secretly delivered by Pullman porters to cities everywhere. Almost overnight, Abbott became one of the few black millionaires of his time. By 1920, the Defender tagline was the Worlds Greatest Weekly. The story of the Defender is one of inspiration, struggles, and triumphs and of dreams coming true. It became a beacon and voice for those who for years had no voice. The Defender produced talents such as Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and W. E. B. DuBois. In 1940, Abbotts nephew John H. H. Sengstacke took over as publisher, and by 1956, the Defender was a daily newspaper.