Each of us – among the fortunate – get to face each day with optimism, hope, with our “eyes on the prize.” If we’re lucky, we may just get the opportunity to do something historic, something monumental. The U.S. Black Chamber [USBC] recently had that kind of day.
We had the good fortune of meeting with the chairman, as well as, the president, of the National Bankers Association, the 85-year old industry group founded by pioneering black bankers Major R.R. Wright and C.C. Spaulding, with an able assist from Maggie Lena Walker, the first African-American woman bank president.
Chairman Doyle Mitchell Jr., and President Michael Grant, clearly are cut from the same mold as the visionary founders of the NBA [no, not that one!], and are determined to firmly establish this nation’s black banks – and the men and women who run them – in their rightful place in America’s economy. That’s where the history-making part comes in.
In our effort to demonstrate that USBC’s Five Pillars of Service are more than bullet points on our website, we set out to open an account at the Washington, D.C.-based Industrial Bank, led by Mitchell, the third-generation leader of that institution. We got that; and a whole lot more!
What we got is a historic union between the U.S. Black Chamber, Inc. and the National Bankers Association. What we got is the first step in solving the riddle of Access to Capital, the constant lament of black business owners. What we got is the first block in our collective efforts to reclaim and rebuild our communities nationwide. What we got is a b-l-e-s-s-i-n-g!
Mitchell and Grant pledged the support of their organization’s 38 minority and women-owned banks to our efforts to improve opportunities for the businesses represented by our 107 member chambers of commerce. That’s big. We – in turn – pledged the support of our member chambers to their efforts to grow the footprints, influence and deposits of the members of NBA. That’s big, too!
“It just makes sense,” said Grant, who brings a wealth of business, civil rights and public policy experience to the banking organization. “Ron Busby is the right man, at the right time, at the right place, and the USBC is fortunate to have someone so focused at the helm. I believe that past performance is an indicator of seriousness of purpose, and we felt that sense of purpose in our meeting with Ron and his team,” Grant said.
Those kind words from Grant capture the feeling we took away from our meeting, as well. And while black business owners may have taken a momentary diversion away from the bankers who first supported us, the seriousness of purpose of Mitchell and Grant demand that we reciprocate their commitment to us. At a time that the nation’s too-big-to-fail financial institutions appear to be in the “cold” phase of their “hot-cold” relationship with black businesses, the renewed relationship with America’s black-owned banks is just what the doctored ordered!
Together, our organizations will spearhead the return to the spirit of “Black Wall Street” and the historical success black business and black banks forged in the past.
You’ll get to meet Mitchell and Grant during our upcoming 2nd annual USBC School of Chamber Management, July 24-28, when we announce our historic, new partnership. From this point forward, Access to Capital takes on a whole new feel. It’s a great day in America!
Ron Busby, Sr. is president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (www.usblackchamber.com)