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AME Church and black banks launch partnership for black wealth

Hazel Trice Edney | 7/21/2018, 10:53 a.m.
The black church, among the most prosperous institutions in America, has long led movements for the spiritual, social and civic ...
AME Church bishops pose with black bankers and business leaders after the June 26 announcement of the historic partnership. Klarque Garrison/Trice Edney News Wire

The black church, among the most prosperous institutions in America, has long led movements for the spiritual, social and civic uplift of black people.

Now, the African Methodist Episcopal Church — with a legacy of leadership in its own right — has announced an innovative economic partnership with black-owned banks across the country. The partnership aims to be a catalyst to spur business development, homeownership and wealth within the black community.

“We are now pleased to announce a partnership with the presidents of the 19 black banks in the United States, with the goal of increasing black wealth,” said Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, president of the Council of AME Bishops.

“This initiative will strengthen black banks across the United States and increase their capacity to lend to small businesses, to secure mortgages, to provide personal lines of credit and to offer other forms of credit to AME churches and our members. This, of course, includes enabling members and their families to become homeowners.”

Bishop Jackson made the announcement at a news conference during the 2018 Council of Bishops and General Board Meeting in Atlanta on June 26. The specific details of a memorandum of understanding are being formulated and will be announced this summer. But the goals are:

To increase deposits and loans with black banks;

To increase black homeownership to more than 50 percent nationwide, which means 2 million more black homeowners than now exist; and

To grow the number of black businesses from 2.6 million to 4 million and total gross receipts from an average of $72,500 to $150,000.

“The spirit in which you all have shared the commitment to the community, to the banks and to what we can do together is outstanding,” responded Preston Pinkett III, chairman and chief executive officer of the City National Bank of New Jersey and chairman of the National Bankers Association. “Thank you for your willingness to step outside of the norm to do something that I would say is extraordinary here in America and extraordinary in the world.”

Mr. Pinkett said the church-bank partnerships already are beginning around the nation. “It is safe to say that this kind of commitment, this kind of demonstration, will go a long way in supporting our banks and the banks to be able to support the community … With God’s blessings, we will accomplish great things.”

At the announcement, Bishop Jackson was surrounded by the 20 bishops of the 231-year-old denomination, as well as supporters of the movement, including principals of the growing economic movement, Black Wealth 2020, that Bishop Jackson credited as inspiration for the idea.

Black Wealth 2020, an initiative started in Washington in 2015, “is providing an economic blueprint for black America,” Bishop Jackson said.

At the news conference, Michael Grant, one of the founders of Black Wealth 2020, connected the new partnership directly with the movement begun by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“The great civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others has now morphed into a full-fledged movement for economic empowerment,” Mr. Grant said. “The offspring of African slaves and their unrewarded labor have catapulted a small colonial outpost into the greatest industrial giant the world has ever known. Now, as a people, we are turning our efforts toward our own enrichment. We must now create those economic opportunities for ourselves.”