The Editor’s View: The Impact of the Black Dollar

By Katrice L. Mines, Editor | kmines@atlantatribune.com

Just before our family reunion in May, I called my aunt in Ohio to ask a few questions about her growing up in Alabama during the civil rights movement. I was essentially charged with chronicling a snapshot of her experience with traversing life in the south for the youngest members of our family who are increasingly removed from the realities of racial strife when segregation and the inability to vote were the norm.

Aunt Betty recalled the Montgomery Bus Boycott with a resolve that made clear for me that even in her youth, she understood what was at stake. I asked her, “did you dread having to walk everywhere?” Her response, a resounding “No! We just did it.”

The Montgomery Bus Boycott, in which African Americans refused to ride city buses in Montgomery, Ala., to protest segregated seating, took place from December 5, 1955, to December 20, 1956, and is regarded as the first large-scale demonstration against segregation in the United States. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks had refused to yield her seat to a white man on a Montgomery bus. She was arrested and fined.

My aunt was 12 or 13 when she moved from Montgomery, Ala., to Sandusky, Ohio, and now has grandchildren between the ages of 11 and 15. For them, along with the other kids under 18 in our family, I’m sure hers and other stories from that era are virtually unimaginable … which is why we tell them.

The same is true of our diversity coverage every September. We have worked through analysis of ethnic diversity among senior leadership in Atlanta’s large corporations, diversity training and speak, employee affinity groups, the dismantling of diversity (initiatives), the significance and effect of electing the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office, the value of black lives and so much more. This year, as we find ourselves still submersed in a volatile climate of racial divide politically and socially, we are compelled to take a closer look at the power of the black dollar.

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In July, the push to #BankBlack and #MoveYourMoney to black-owned financial institutions nationally garnered a major response in Atlanta. In just five days, 8,000 people submitted applications to join Citizens Trust Bank, according to company officials, in response to rapper Killer Mike’s challenge during an interview for the black community to tackle the problem of racial injustice with their dollars. He had also hosted an event earlier in the year encouraging Black people to open accounts at CTB. And while the bank acknowledges the boost it received from the entertainer, president and CEO Cynthia N. Day reveals that it was perfect timing as the historically black-owned bank was already exploring innovative and strategic ways to attract a younger customer base. I sat down with her this month to learn more about CTB’s Next Generation Advisory Board, while Kamille D. Whittaker tackles the overall impact of black spend in “Black Consumer Impact and Buying Power: Its Merits and Myths” (pg. 24).

And one thing is true from 1955 until today – the power to affect change is within our reach. AT

 

 

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