Photo credits: BankOnDC/Capital Savings Bank of Washington D.C.
On this date in 1888, one of the first banks for Black America was organized. The financial institution was called Capital Savings Bank of Washington D.C.
The beginning of Black capitalism in America has a strong history. In spite of Jim Crow segregation during the first 30 years of the 20th century, Black capitalism thrived. Economic empowerment was another vehicle for equality. Black America’s great entrepreneurial spirit showed in the escalation of the founding of Black banks, insurance companies, newspapers, and other enterprises that served the Black community.
By 1892, Capital Savings Bank, its deposits had grown to over $300,000. The Black church and fraternal organizations raised and channeled their community’s economic spirit into empowerment. At first, Black churches did not have businesses in the traditional sense.
However, they owned buildings and real estate, which were the only major assets owned by Blacks. These institutions collected large sums of contributions and soon went on to establish the first Black banks. Because of their enormous growth, Black businesses began to grow strongly. Receipts in the millions of dollars from products were sold primarily to a Black consumer market.
This could not have materialized without the capital and credit that black banks provided and white-owned financial institutions were unwilling to give. For example, Richard Wright established Citizens and Southern Bank and Trust Company. Wright’s firm played a vital role in launching many small enterprises that included groceries, bakeries, cleaning establishments, and caterers.
Between 1888 and 1934, 134 Black banks were established. From 1867 through 1917, the number of black businesses increased from 4,000 to 50,000. Capital Savings Bank helped many businesses and property owners until it closed in 1902.
The site on which it stood (609 F Street, NW, Washington D.C.) was designated a DC Historic Landmark inside that nation’s capital.
Reference: Mabunda, M. (1998 January 01) Capital Savings Bank opens (October 17, 1888). Retrieved from https://aaregistry.org/story/capital-savings-bank-opens/
*BlackThen.com writer and historian Victor Trammell edited and contributed to this report