By MICHELLE HOLLINGER
MIAMI – Perhaps it was the accumulated grief from losing black person after black person to the hands of white police officers. Maybe it was bearing witness to the execution of Alton Sterling via video; compounded the following day by Diamond Reynold’s astonishing live play by play as her boyfriend, Philando Castile, lay dying after being shot by a white police officer. Possibly, it was all of the above. Whatever the motivation, the black community seems to be experiencing a visceral reaction to the brutality and has responded by participating in a massive initiative designed to harness the economic power of the black community.
OneUnited Bank, the largest black owned bank in America and the first black internet bank, is launching the national #BankBlack Challenge, focused on the financial message that black money matters. On Saturday, July 30, the bank will partner with The Miami Dade Chamber of Commerce, The Young Professionals Network, Black Professionals Summit, HOT 105 Radio and other community organizations, to host a first-time account opening event at the OneUnited Bank’s Liberty City branch (3275 N.W. 79th Street, Miami).
In recent weeks America’s black community has galvanized via social media, black media and word of mouth, answering the call for a show of economic force by moving their money from traditional banks to black owned banks. As a result, OneUnited Bank has seen a sizeable uptick in web traffic and new accounts, to the tune of $3 million deposited.
The movement gained steam two weeks ago during a town hall meeting televised on BET when Rapper Killer Mike implored the black community to deploy “a portion” of its financial resources to make a tangible difference. Other celebrities such as Solange, Jessie Williams, Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Queen Latifah, and more have joined the conversation urging blacks to move their money to black owned banks.
“If 1 million people opened a $100 savings account in a black owned bank, we would move $100 million! That’s real economic power,” said Teri Williams, President and COO of OneUnited Bank. “It is critical for the black community to utilize our $1.2 trillion in annual spending power to create jobs and build wealth in our community.”
OneUnited hosted a similar event in Los Angeles last weekend with over 500 in attendance. The Miami event will feature food trucks, free giveaways, spoken word by Darius Daughtrey and a personal meet-and-greet with Williams.
Many have speculated that although protests and other efforts to exact change have their place, a strong economic base within the black community is pivotal to demanding reform in the police departments and the other American systems adversely impacting the lives of blacks.
“With money behind it, people have more of a tendency to listen,” said Sherri Brewer, senior vice president of OneUnited Bank, who added the purpose of the initiative is to “create unity in our community, coming together to have a strong economic base and have a voice.”
For more information about OneUnited Bank, the #BankBlack Challenge and the July 30 event in Miami, please visit www.oneunited.com/BankBlackMiami or email firstname.lastname@example.org.