The African Methodist Episcopal Church recently announced an innovative economic partnership with Black-owned banks across the country aimed at increasing wealth in the black community through business development and homeownership.
"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," Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, president of the Council of AME Bishops said, according to the St. Louis American. "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."
Jackson explained during a press conference held during the 2018 Council of Bishops and General Board Meeting in Atlanta on June 26 that a more detailed plan on the partnership will be revealed later this summer but they hope the plan will help increase both deposits and loans at black-owned banks.
"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," Preston Pinkett III, chairman and CEO of the City National Bank of New Jersey and chairman of the National Bankers Association said. "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."
Pinkett explained that the partnerships between the church and black-owned banks are already underway and he believes with "God's blessings" they will "accomplish great things."
Jackson said the idea for the partnership between the banks and the church grew out of a 2015 initiative in Washington, D.C. called Black Wealth 2020.
Black Wealth 2020 is described as a movement the seeks to unite "some of the most historic national economic, civic and civil rights organizations with a goal to impact economic outcomes in Black America through the year 2020 and beyond. The group's three-pronged strategy is to significantly increase the number of Black homeowners, strong Black-owned businesses and deposits in Black banks," the website for the initiative explains.
The movement is seen as a continuation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Poor People's Campaign," an economic justice movement that was launched in Memphis shortly before he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
"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," Michael Grant, one of the founders of Black Wealth 2020 said at the press conference. "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."