Capital Savings Bank opens

Date: 
Wed, 1888-10-17

On this date in 1888, one of the first banks for African-Americans was organized, Capital Savings Bank of Washington D.C.

The beginnings of black capitalism in America have a strong history. In spite of brutal racial segregation during the first 30 years of the 20th century, black capitalism began to thrive. Because economic empowerment was another vehicle for equality, a great entrepreneurial spirit showed in the escalation of the founding of black banks, insurance companies, newspapers, and other enterprises that served the black community.

The black church and fraternal organizations raised and channeled that economic spirit into empowerment. At first, black churches didn't have businesses in the traditional sense, but they owned buildings and real estate, the only major assets owned by blacks. These institutions collected large sums of contributions and soon went on to establish the first black banks. Because of their enormous growth, black businesses began to grow strongly, with receipts in the millions of dollars from products sold primarily to a black consumer market.

This couldn't have materialized without the capital and credit that black banks provided and white-owned financial institutions were unwilling to give. For example, Richard Wright established Citizens and Southern Bank and Trust Company and played a vital role in launching many small enterprises that included groceries, bakeries, cleaning establishments, and caterers.

Between 1888 and 1934, 134 black banks were established, while from 1867 through 1917, the number of black businesses increased from 4,000 to 50,000. Capital Savings Bank helped many businesses and property owners until it closed in 1902.

The site on which it stood, 609 F Street, NW, Washington D.C. was designated a DC Historic Landmark.

Reference:
Reference Library of Black America Volumes 1 through 5
Edited by Mpho Mabunda
Copyright 1998, Gale Research, Detroit, MI

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