Many say African Americans still carry the scars from the failure of the Freedman’s Bank, and pay a high price. “The legacy of the first and only bank chartered to teach freed slaves about money–by our fallen emancipator President Lincoln, no less–is that of a jobless Ferguson on fire. A jobless Baltimore on fire. A then jobless South Central Los Angeles in 1992 on fire. A jobless Watts in 1968 on fire. And so many more. Middle class, 700-credit score communities–of any race–don’t riot. Only poor neighborhoods riot and, more specifically, poor neighborhoods that ‘never got the memo’ on how money and the free enterprise system works,â€ says Bryant.
“Poverty is not what people think it is, actually. It has nothing to do with money,” Bryant adds. “To make it plain, after 350 years of slavery and Jim Crow ending in our lifetime–I believe that a majority of African Americans are today clinically, undiagnosed [with depression], and for good reason. The problem is, fully 50% of both wealth and poverty is rooted in our self-esteem and self-confidence.â€
Hopefully, today’s acknowledgement of the loss of black wealth through renaming the Treasury Annex building will help heal the emotional and economic wounds the absolution of the original Freedman’s Bank left behind.