Virginia’s last Black-owned bank is gone, bought by former NFL Player
Casey Crawford, a former Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end, has recently taken over the First State Bank in Danville, Virginia and renamed it Movement Bank, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.
Crawford will serve as the chairman of Movement Bank’s board, and is the bank’s majority shareholder, owning 94 percent of the bank’s stock. Tom Smith is the bank president and CEO.
Until Crawford bought it, First State Bank was the last Black-owned bank in the state of Virginia. It was founded in 1919 when almost all of the state’s banks refused to serve Black Americans.
The loss of Virginia’s last Black bank comes just a little over 100 years after Booker T. Washington praised the state for being full of Black banking pioneers.
“Here, the first Negro bank was established, and now there are more banks operated by Negores in Virginia than in any other state,” Washington said in Richmond, Virginia in 1913, “I understand that there are altogether 12 such banks. Richmond has the distinction of having the first Negro bank in the country that is run by a woman.”
Under its Black ownership, First State Bank had an incredibly resilient history, surviving both the Great Depression and hardship during the Civil Rights era. The bank played a key role in local civil rights protests throughout the 1960s, paying the bail of arrested protesters.
The bank also fought for civil rights in the courts. One of its early presidents, Maceo Conrad Martin, sued the state of Virginia in 1948 after being denied access to Staunton River State Park. As a result of the suit, the state created a “separate but equal” park for its Black residents.
The loss of Black banks in Virginia follows a national trend. The number of Black-owned banks has decreased sharply.
According to the USA Today, in 1986, the nation had 44 Black-owned banks. Now only 23 remain.
Activists hope to do something about that.
Last month, Dr. Melina Abdullah, a California State University professor and one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, said, “Wells Fargo and Citibank … they’re putting the dollars that you give them in the institutions that keep us oppressed. If you are not going to bank Black, you are funding white supremacy.”
Rapper Killer Mike began a drive with the goal of getting 1 million people to each depo-sit $100 at Black-owned banks last year; Solange announced not long after that she was moving the entirety of her fortune to a Black-owned institution.
Terri Williams, president of the nation’s largest Black-owned bank, OneUnited said that by supporting Black banks, Black Americans are supporting their communities.
“The cities we serve are Black and brown,” Williams said, “And on the income side, many are people who are struggling. We have people in their 50s and 60s who tell us they’ve never set foot in a bank. They didn’t feel welcome. They didn’t feel banking was for them.”
If you’d like to support your local Black-owned bank by opening an account, the FDIC has a list of those that remain in business.