A group of Black investors led by Dr. Bernice A. King and Ashley D. Bell are purchasing Holladay Bank & Trust located near Salt Lake City, Utah. They are making history as the first Black American investors to ever buy a bank that was formally white-owned. Even more, once the sale is finalized, it will be the only Black-owned bank west of Texas, and the only one in the entire Mountain West region of the country.
The investors, which also include former NFL player Dhani Jones, are making the purchase through their Atlanta-based Redemption Holding Company. Jones will also serve on the company’s advisory board along with King, the daughter of the late Martin Luther King Jr., and Bell, a former White House Policy Advisor.
Since 1974, the previously woman-led white-owned bank has been operating in Salt Lake City in Utah which has one of the lowest Black populations in the country. After the regulatory approval clears, the investors plan to rename the institution to Redemption Bank, aiming to focus more on online banking services and small business loans, especially in underserved communities.
“Black banks make the American dream possible for all Americans by deploying resources that uniquely address the financial realities of communities that have been systematically excluded, overcharged, and under-capitalized for hundreds of years,” Bell told The Hill.
“In my father’s last public address on April 3, 1968, he preached the imperative to accelerate the financial inclusion of Black Americans by supporting mission-driven Black banks — something he called a ‘bank-in movement,'” King said. “More than half a century of struggle and incremental progress later, we’re making good on daddy’s call to bank in by creating new centers of opportunity for people of color, starting with this Black-led bank acquisition. Redemption is just that: delivering families from the cycle of unjust financial exclusion and intergenerational poverty.”
With this acquisition, there will now be 17 Black-owned banks in the United States. That represents less than 1% of all FDIC-insured banks. According to CNBC, however, between 1888 and 1934, there were as many as 134 banks across the nation that were owned and operated by African Americans.