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tv   Freedmans Bank 150th Anniversary  CSPAN  February 7, 2016 1:20pm-1:57pm EST

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willing toant inconvenience their own lives to make that come true. >> tonight on q&a, jesse holland discusses his book "the the apple story of african-american slaves in the white house. >> the majority of the founding fathers that became president were all slave owners. they would bring in slaves from their plantations. george washington did this as well. he brought in slaves to new york city and philadelphia from mount vernon. as the first to mystic staff to the united states president. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern on q&a. 2015 marked the anniversary of the freedmen's bank. the bank was for newly freed slaves in the post-civil war era. the treasury department
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hosts a ceremony to rename the treasury and its building. it was built on the original site of the freedmen's bank. this is about 30 minutes. >> good afternoon. i am the assistant secretary for management here at the treasury department. thank you all for being here today. those of you joining us virtually as well. it is a tremendous privilege to come to work here at the treasury department every day and this is stored building. century,or more than a decisions made at this building have impacted the lives of our fellow citizens. i am honored to work for the secretary, a great leader and tireless advocate. often times in the day-to-day routine it is easy to forget the , historic significance of the institution we work for, the legacy we are part of, and the people we serve.
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today, we take a small step and -- in preserving the history of the building and the legacy of service and inclusion. i want to start off by recognizing john hope brian. it was his idea that we name the treasury annex the freedman's bank building, and i'm delighted this idea came to fruition. [applause] >> thank you for your leadership and continued commitment to financial inclusion for all americans. we are also honored to be joined by liberty bank ceo alden mcdonald, and a mandates no introduction ambassador young. ambassador young. , professor william spriggs could not be with us today, but
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they do send their warmest regards. our first speaker today will be mr. alden mcdonald junior, president and ceo of liberty bank and trust, a position he has held since the bank inception in 1972. he is the longest tenured african-american financial executive in the country, and on january 11, he celebrates his 50th anniversary in banking. he is recognized -- [applause] >> he is recognized as a passionate advocate and a dynamic catalyst in helping people own homes, build wealth, and develop as community leaders. to start us off with more on the history of the freedman's bank. i want to welcome mr. alden. thank you. [applause]
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thank you very much mr. secretary. secretary, distinguished guests, members of congress, ladies and gentlemen. i come before you this afternoon standing on the shoulders of historic men and women who recognize the need to build wealth in the african-american community to make us a strong and prosperous nation. today, the u.s. treasury department is dedicating its annex building as the freedman's bank building. this is a clear symbol of our country's continued commitment to inclusive prosperity.
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it is a special treat for me to be part of this history-making event because on monday, i celebrate 50 years of being in the banking business. [applause] alden: i also want to share with you a piece of history. i was the first african-american banking officer to be employed in the state of louisiana in 1967. to be able to stand before you today and to share this bank's history makes me a very special moment for me. the tradition of inclusive prosperity has had it starts and stops in the history of our country. the establishment of the
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freedman's bank following the civil war was one of the most inspiring efforts aimed at developing a stable, diverse middle-class and reducing the disparity between rich and poor americans. providing banking services to the newly freed slaves was hurt by the assassination of president lincoln. and a congressional compromise between the north and the south essentially relegated african-americans to a second-class citizenship. in the jim crow environment, african-americans continue to develop avenues for financial growth as witnessed by the development of black banking institutions following reconstruction. two of the early black-owned
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banks to operate in the united states were the capital savings bank of washington, d.c., which began in 1888. that same year, william washington brown, a next late, ex-slave, found the true reformer savings bank in richmond, virginia. there were many other successful banks that were owned by african-americans in the united states. one of the most successful of the early block-owned banks was the alabama penny loan and savings bank. others included mechanics and farmers in durham, north carolina, which is still in existence today. which is still in existence today. citizens and southern philadelphia, pennsylvania, the penny savings bank of richmond,
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virginia, whose founder was madam cj walker, the first woman president in the united states. [applause] alden: from 1888 to 1934, african-americans owned more than 130 financial institutions. during that same time, the the number of black-owned businesses rose from 4000 to 50,000 businesses. african-american banks in our communities, in our country, make a difference. we help to grow the economy, and we help to build jobs. this has been history, and we continue to do it today.
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i and other new orleans citizens found the bank in 1972, followed what i like to call the second civil war, the civil rights movement of the 1960's. historic men and women like my friend and fellow new orleans citizen, ambassador andrew young, fought and won battles for basic rights in nonviolent protests that ended the denial and access of african-americans to public places and insured our right to vote. the battle of economic equity and overcoming blatant disparity for which dr. martin luther king was murdered continues today. today, there are only a handful of african-american-owned banks. a little over 25. that is from a number when i got
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into the banking business of close to 100, and during the period i mentioned earlier, 130 african-american-owned banks. the assets of these institutions today are nearly $6.1 billion. they employed 2000 plus people and have equity capital of approximately $550 million. i have to learn how to say million again. this is a great asset for our communities and country. we grow the community. we grow the economy. and we grow jobs. in neighborhoods left un-banked by mainstream financial institutions. in the great recession of 2008, these 25 institutions served
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some of the most economically challenged markets in our country. new orleans, birmingham, montgomery, atlanta, detroit, milwaukee, i can go on and on. these communities today are still challenged in the african-american financial institutions are still there supporting economic growth. african american financial institutions continued to face challenges relative to earnings, capital, and cost of operations. many continued to improve. according to the fdic research study published in 2014, it was stated that the african-american banks are very successful in serving the african-american population of low and moderate income.
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it was also stated in that same study that over 60% of the loans made to individuals in these census tracts were made by african-american institutions. approximate 30% was made by non-banks, and the balance made by the mainstream financial institutions. we have a place in this economy. we have a place to help grow our economy, grow our community, and provide jobs. we have learned how to effectively serve disadvantaged communities, build credit worthiness, and expand economic opportunities for small businesses and young professionals. we understand that we have to be engaged in providing greater
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social, political, and economic opportunities for the people we serve. that is why we have invested in educating our youth, expanding home-buying opportunities, and have fought for greater inclusion of black businesses in mainstream economy. we can only survive and thrive when the people we serve are making progress and building wealth. african american banks are on the front line of combating urban decay, battling predatory lenders, and continuing the critical fight for homeownership and wealth building. -- building opportunities for black americans. i want to take this opportunity to thank the u.s. treasury department for providing us with creative and flexible financial tools to address disparity
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challenges. the u.s. treasury department is at the forefront, attempting and have recognized the disparities that exist. the community development financial institution program, the cdfi, has proven to be an effective method for closing some of the disparity gaps. there are a number of programs in the toolbox. to name a few, the bank enterprise program, technical assistance, financial empowerment grants, new market tax credits, very important for the african-american financial institutions to provide. the new market tax credits help provide earnings, help create a larger customer base, and help build and maintain communities
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that would normally be untouched and create decay in many parts of our country. i would like to encourage the u.s. treasury department to not only continue these tools, but to find a way to expand these tools. members of congress, we need more funding for the u.s. treasury department because these tools represent an investment in our country. [applause] alden: again, i would like to thank the treasury department's leadership for supporting this mission. while we are here today to dedicate a federal building in the name of the freedman's bank, one of the nation's most important efforts to balance the
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economic scales in america, i challenge everyone in this room to recommit yourselves to continuing the fight for inclusive prosperity for every american. we are stewards of a sacred american legacy that every man and woman has the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. let's make future generations proud of what we could accomplish together. i thank you once again for keeping history alive by naming this building the freedman's bank building and continuing the mission of serving the underserved in our country. thank you very much. [applause]
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>> i would like at this time to invite my good friend, the honorable ambassador andrew young to come to the podium for a few remarks. [applause] mr. young: thank you very much. we are really celebrating here something that few of us know much about, but as we look back at the freedman's bank, we realize that before the civil war, there were 27 black millionaires in louisiana alone. in my wife's hometown of marion, alabama, there was a school that
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was built by nine black landowners at the end of the civil war, where they wrote to the american missionary association in boston and said, we have land and we can build a building. we need teachers, and so the american missionary association sent down teachers, and they built the lincoln school in marion, alabama. it just so happens that out of that county, when horace mann bond wrote his dissertation in the 1940's, there were more phd's from that one county in alabama, black phd's, than there were from any state in the union. so there is a relationship there. it just so happens too that our
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wives all happen to go to that same school. [laughter] mr. young: so we might not have had a civil rights movement because none of us were any better than our wives made us. [laughter] mr. young: but when we look at the history of the african-american integration into america, the one thing that has been most difficult for us is the desegregation of the money. it wasn't an accident that we didn't talk much about money. every black institution that had been overturned had been overturned because of some financial discrepancies. so dr. king always said to us that, you know, to be free you have got to overcome the level of wealth and the fear of death,
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and so we did not talk much about either. though we knew that both were very significant in creating the world in which we live. we were right out of the mccarthy era, so to talk about money too much made you a communist, especially if you were talking about sharing the wealth. not to mention that that was right out of the new testament, -- testament. but we have had a long struggle trying to make this country work. but it cannot work so long as we have barriers of race, creed, gender, national origin, and wealth. to desegregate, to get the right
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to vote in a democracy and not have access to capital is to only be halfway free. and we have always known that. [applause] mr. young: in fact, it was the poor people's campaign in which martin luther king gave his life, which brought not black people together -- we had 23 organizations of differing ethnic groups throughout america, which c.t. vivian, who is here, help to organize in january of 1968, and we were beginning to raise those economic questions of economic justice. and we have sort of made it work in atlanta despite the fact that it was stopped nationwide. john bryant's moving to atlanta with operation hope constantly nags us and pushes us not to
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forget the money. we have really demonstrated first that the fortune is at the bottom of the pyramid, but second that poor people can save capitalism. when you look at atlanta, atlanta is a city that is really thriving because we have made it inclusive financially. i want to embarrass my colleague from atlanta, bill rogers, when we were trying to keep dr. king's papers in atlanta, shirley franklin went to him and said we have to have $34 million, and got it. it was paid back, but we have a civil rights museum and we have dr. king's papers there because of an active relationship
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between the whole community and access to capital. i know some people don't like wall street, but in atlanta, we like wall street. [laughter] mr. young: because maynard jackson told us how to go to wall street and get money and build an airport, and we have an airport that we have put $14 billion in. keeping aaa bond ratings, but last year that airport generated $38 billion worth of economic activity and generated 400,000 jobs. and there are about 35% or 40% of that jobs and wealth is managed by people of color and women who were also locked out of the economy before maynard jackson became mayor. so an inclusive economy grows. we have grown from 1.5 million
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to 6.5 million. we want everybody else to go somewhere else and use capitalism to grow their city. [laughter] mr. young: but reminding us of the history of the freedman's bank is a significant part of our economic legacy, and we are doing a lot to try to spread that legacy not only to the cities of the south, but to the rural areas of the south. the civil rights movement came out of rural poverty. but right now i think the best place to live and raise a family in the world is the small cities in the south of the united states of america, where since we got integration and air-conditioning -- [laughter] mr. young: -- it is kind of hard to find a better place to live. now our secretary of treasury is part of that legacy, though he
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has been so much behind the scenes that -- and that's one good thing about being a secretary of the treasury i was taken on my first trip to africa by one of his predecessors, a good republican, george shultz. i was introduced to the world bank and to world markets by secretary shultz. at the same time, he was working with tip o'neill in congress, and he's worked with just about every administration since then. i think that we know, though america does not know, that in a world which is dominated by the struggles of a global economy, i say it is not that we need more boots on the ground.
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we need more fargamo's on the ground. more stacy adams on the ground. we need bankers, investors, people to create jobs, because as john's friend says, the way to stop a bullet is a job. and we are onto something here. we are onto the idea that we have got to make free enterprise work here in the united states, but through the united states we have got to make free enterprise work throughout this planet because stabilizing a global economy, which we did not create. it was created by all of these things we have in our pockets. we can't get away from it. there is no turning back, and a man who understands that and who struggles every day to keep america secure and probably has saved as many lives as the whole pentagon by his economic dealings with countries that are
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in constant conflict, but thank god, congress does not know much about it and neither does the press. i would like to introduce our secretary of the treasury and thank him. [applause] young: thank him for his leadership in keeping america strong and safe. [applause] mr. lew: thank you ambassador young for that kind introduction. thank you to all of you for being here today. it really is a pleasure to welcome you to the treasury department. i was saying earlier that we have to create our on special days, and this is one of those. i'm sure many of you were
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reminded about the incredible history that lives forever in this neighborhood where we live and work. our neighbor to the west gets much of the attention, but lafayette square itself has a rich history of its own. it has hosted protest and parades, housing government buildings, including the treasury department. today we are shedding light on an important chapter of this neighborhood's history and a story that deserves to be better known. before we do, i would like to thank alden mcdonald for his wise words and all the people who were critical in putting today together, starting with our assistant secretary and all the treasury staff who work to make this happen. reverend c.t. vivian, controller
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curry, director watt, thank you all for being here and for the dedication that so many of you have every day to the cause of financial inclusion. i also want to thank john hope bryant, chairman and ceo of operation hope and the member of the president's advisory council on financial capability for young americans. he really did help make this day possible. the outstanding work that he does every day on financial inclusion is really an inspiration to many. [applause] secretary lew: since about a year ago, john suggested to me that we rename our annex building and i want to thank him for that idea because today that idea is becoming a reality. the history of the freedman's
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bank began more than 150 years ago when congress passed and president lincoln signed a law to create freedman's savings and trust. the freedman's bank was established to help newly freed african-americans to build wealth by providing a safe place to bank and save new earnings. its headquarters were in the building that is now -- in a location where our treasury annex now stands. today, to commemorate that legacy into renewed our commitment to the promise of financial inclusion and the opportunity for better life, we are naming the treasury annex building the freedman's bank building. [applause] secretary lew: in the early years of its existence, the freedman's savings and trust function well. within nine years of its
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founding, the bank had 100,000 customers. while it was originally created for african-american civil war soldiers, most of the account holder's work laborers, cooks, custodians, nurses, barbers, and blacksmiths. and institutions and churches, including how are university. -- howard university. today, as we commemorate the promise of the freedman's bank, we must also remember the complicated legacy and challenge of americans struggling to reach financial security. the freedman's bank had a disappointing and do too risky investment and abroad financial panic. the bank struggled and failed in 1874. sadly, most of the savings and the bank were lost. nonetheless, the freedman's bank remains a significant part of american history. it symbolized the hope and
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and hope that african-americans could be integrated into our nation's economic life. the bank represented the federal government's commitment to helping make financial inclusion a reality, and that as a challenge we still face today and a commitment we need to renew today. far too many are excluded today. many americans, especially low income and minority families, have little or no access to the financial system. without a credit or banking history, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to qualified for the most basic access to a home mortgage or small business loan. without access to the financial system, it is almost impossible to build savings and investment that are essential to a secure financial future. without a financial education, many do not even understand the tools they need to build his -- this future. under president obama's leadership, the administration has worked to address these issues. as the president has said, if you're willing to work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to find a good job, feel secure in your community, and support a family. to help move people towards a
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brighter, more secure, future, we need to better connect individuals and enterprises to a robust financial system in fair and appropriate ways. here at treasury, we are intensifying our efforts to improve financial inclusion. we continue to work with our partners across government through the financial literacy and education commission to make sure that all americans, and especially our young people, have the knowledge, skills, and tools they need to make informed financial choices. just a few weeks ago in december, we held a dynamic form -- forum with government and private partners to serve as a platform to announce private sector commitments and treasury initiatives to expand financial inclusion. these initiatives included investing in public goods like our payments infrastructure, providing seed funding to entrepreneurs to identify breakthrough ideas that will reduce financial exclusion, and leveraging new technologies to drive down the cost of serving low-income customers. in addition, we are working to
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expand availability of financial services and access to credit in underserved communities through the programs of the community development financial institutions fund. today, we just held a very productive roundtable which will it advance our work even more. in the weeks and months ahead, as we work with our partners across the executive branch and capitol hill and the private sector to improve financial inclusion, we will continue to take additional steps as we make sure that we implement the commitments that have already been made. naming the freedman's bank building today represents that promise. as we honor the legacy of the freedman's bank, it reminds us of the need for effective regulation and oversight and symbolizes our commitment to ensuring more americans have the financial tools and education they need to build a secure future. while it is a little cold today, i'm sure that even right now visitors to washington are walking up and down pennsylvania
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avenue. from this day on, families and students from around the nation and from all over the world will see a sign telling them that they are looking at the freedman's bank building. when they see it, many will be inspired to pick up their smart phones and look up what freedman's bank was and learn about its history. and i hope they will take a moment to complement this contemplate what it meant for freedman and women to have a bank at all. and what it means for americans from every community to feel fully a part of our country with the tools to build her own future. thank you for being here today, and thank you for joining us. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [indistinct chatter] [applause]
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