In 1865, after the north won the Civil War, the government opened the Freedman’s Bank. This institution was geared towards nearly four million, newly freed black people. The objective was clear: provide a federally protected place for black workers to place their funds.
By 1871, 37 branches were open in the US, with over 70,000 people depositing $60 million into this bank. This was particularly amazing considering the limited amount of wealth many emancipated blacks had just years earlier. But in 1873, a great depression happened, shifting the economy and heightening tensions nationally.
Hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr. — with additional commentary from Hasan Jeffries and Vincent Brown — we look at what many would consider to be one of the leading causes of generational distrust in banking institutions for black families across the United States.
Archival Materials Courtesy of:
Robert F. Smith
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Be Woke presents is brought to you by Robert F. Smith and Deon Taylor.
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