Jesse Jackson Takes Aim At Banking Industry
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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Jesse Jackson takes Wall Street bankers to task for poor business practices. (Source: Marcia Wade Talbert, Black Enterprise)

Jesse Jackson Sr. called for a “Stimulus Part II” at a news conference outlining the goals of the 13th Annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit held Wednesday in New York City. The impact of foreclosures, Depression-level unemployment in the black community, and rising healthcare costs show that the stimulus act approved by President Barack Obama left conditions rough for many on Main Street while Wall Street was heavily subsidized, Jackson said.

Jackson, a protégé of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., launched the summit more than a decade ago to increase economic empowerment for African Americans. It has been held every year on the eve of King’s birthday since 1997. The theme for the 2010 summit, “Targeted Stimulus: A Call to Equity & Parity,” focuses on strategies to invest in job creation, minority businesses, and underserved communities. The summit runs from Jan 13-15.

Jackson has placed much of the blame for the country’s economic troubles on a banking industry that has “run wild without accountability,” making historically record profits while simultaneously circumventing fair lending laws.

“Painfully little has changed” since the bailout, said Jackson in reference to the government’s lack of oversight within the financial community. “It is painful for us and little change for them.”

To help curb the pattern of ignoring the little guy, the country will need to revisit infrastructure of Wall Street regulations, place a moratorium on foreclosures, and plan a job intervention, Jackson said.

With a hope to hold large banks accountable, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, which sponsors the summit, plans to attend the shareholder meetings of the top five banks in 2010 and encourage Congress to pass laws for more stringent regulation and oversight. In addition, Jackson along with Mark Morial, president of the National Urban League will announce at the summit a plan to create three million new jobs.

After the news conference, Jackson sat down with to discuss the issues at hand, the responsibility of banks, and the regulation that he says is desperately needed. How is the banking industry’s record on mortgage modifications?

Jesse Jackson: They have not done it. The Wall Street bailout includes 45 banks that have not modified home foreclosures. It’s an abuse of power. There are 3.3 million homes eligible for modification; they’ve modified 1%. One bank had 200,000 homes eligible and modified 98.

The president called for a meeting of the top 10 banks that received bailout money and three didn’t show up for the meeting. I think that’s an act of contempt. Right now we are fortifying banks but not restructuring them. In the mean time the people are expanding into poverty.

Why is the White House having such a hard time getting the banks to modify mortgages?

The president met with the banks to get them to do the right thing. The attorney general should have been at the meetings because we are protected by the law and not by an appeal [to do the right thing.]. I am convinced that unless there is a revival of the Glass-Steagall Act, [which decentralizes banking power by separating commercial and investment banking and establishes the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. as a regulator,] and also a major intervention by the Securities and Exchange Commission then nothing will happen.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.