May 11, 2009
8. Citizens Bancshares Corp.
Citizens Bancshares Corp. is the parent holding company of Citizens Trust Bank, Atlanta’s oldest and largest African American-owned bank. Named Black Enterprise’s Bank of the Year in 1985, the legendary bank is the first minority-owned financial institution to become a member of the Federal Reserve Bank.
Founded in 1921, Citizens Trust Bank was established to provide black entrepreneurs with access to capital to support their small businesses. Today, Citizens Trust Bank is Atlanta’s largest and the nation’s eighth-largest black-owned bank. The bank operates 10 branches in Georgia and Alabama.
In 1998, Citizens Trusted Bank merged with First Southern Bank. During the same year, the financial firm —considered Atlanta’s leading church lender — partnered with three black-owned banks to loan the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church $5 million to finance a construction of new sanctuary for its then 2,000 members.