Freedman’s Bank 150th Anniversary Celebration


Ryan Mack: Good afternoon, everyone. We are
extremely happy to have you all here today. This is a very momentous occasion. My name
is Ryan Mack, President of the Mid-Atlantic Region for Operation HOPE. Just a quick anecdote
I’d like to tell. A man walks into a bar, and this man is a racist man. And he walks
over to the bar and he sits down at the bar and sees a man of color sitting at the bar.
He says, you know what? Drinks on the house are on me except for that man right there.
And everybody gets a drink. And everybody’s drinking and having fun. The man of color
is just sitting there and not fazed. So the man says, dog gone it, meals on me and dessert
as well on me; everyone in the house except for that man right there. And so everybody’s
eating and eating their dessert and everything’s going well. The man of color is just sitting
there unfazed. So the man says, Bartender, I’ve done everything in the world to get that
guy upset. How come he’s not mad. He said, Who are you talking about? He said, That man
of color at the end of the bar. He said, him? Oh, he owns the bar.
>>[Laughter] [Applause]
>>Ryan Mack: The moral of the story is as many negative ails that we have in our society,
a lot of those can be mitigated. And the impacts of all of them can be minimized by ownership.
And Lincoln understood this. And when he mandated the Freedman’s Bank 150 years ago today, Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. understood this when he understood the poor man’s march,
sadly assassinated before he was able to do it. And that’s why today is just so important.
Today is all about inclusive economics. Today is all about understanding the values that
we have and making sure that we know full well that it’s not about waiting on our ship
to come in. It’s learning how to swim out to the ship. It’s if life gives you lemons,
throw them back and get what you want. That’s what economic inclusiveness is about, what
Operation HOPE is about. We have a fabulous program here today. I will tell you, I am
so excited. The speakers are all just extremely happy to be on par and ready to hopefully
give you a great time and get a lot of knowledge. I know that everyone in this room knows that
none of us is as strong as all of us. And truly together we can make a better and brighter
day. So I’m going to jump right into the program with our first speaker who I believe is truly
a monarch of history.Our first guest became Deputy Archivist of the United States in July
2011. She previously served as the agency’s Chief of Staff, as Senior Special Assistant
to the Archivist, and before that as Director of the Lifecycle Coordination Staff where
she was responsible for developing policies, processes, systems and standards relating
to the life of records. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Deputy Archivist of the
United S tates, Ms. Debra Steidel Wall. [Applause]
>>Debra Steidel Wall: I don’t know how to follow that joke. That was fantastic. Yes,
I’m Debra Wall, the Deputy Archivist.Good afternoon. Welcome here to the William G.
McGowan Theater. We’re honored to have you here for the celebration of the 150th Anniversary
of the Freedman’s Bank. I’d like to tell you a little bit about what we do here. Thomas
Jefferson said information is the currency of democracy. Simply put, at the National
Archives we are the keeper of some of the most valuable of that currency, the records
created by the U.S. government. When we opened our doors in 1935, our mission was to collect,
protect, and encourage the use of records and the U.S. government and most importantly
to make them available to the public so the public could hold their government accountable
and to learn from their past. Access remains our primary mission today.
We here believe passionately that free and equal access to government records is the
cornerstone of any democracy. We’re the final destination of the most important records of the United States Government, the one to three percent that are deemed permanent. We are responsible for the records of the 275 executive branch agencies and departments. The White House Congress and the Supreme Court. Our records start with the oaths of allegiance signed by George Washington and his troops at Valley Forge and goes all the way up to the tweets that are being created at this very moment at the White House. We have about 12 billion pieces of paper, billion with a ‘b’. 42 million photographs, miles and miles of film and video and more than 5 billion electronic records. And that number is increasing exponentially every day. We have 3,000 employees and 44 facilities across the country, including 13 presidential
libraries. One of our busiest facilities is the National Personnel Records Center in St.
Louis where we hold the records of 56 million veterans. In this building we hold the records
of the Freedmen’s Bureau and the Freedman’s Bank which you’re here to commemorate today.
These documents are tangible reminders of where we have been and where we need to go.
Thank you for joining us for this afternoon’s program, particularly in light of the questionable
weather. It’s an honor to have you here. Thank you.
[Applause]>>Ryan Mack: And on today we’re going to
have a change of agenda. We’re going to put the heavy hitters first, so to speak. I would
like to introduce our panel. The first guest that we have on our panel today is Mrs. Donna Owens. If we could please welcome Donna Owens to the panel discussion. Representing “ESSENCE” Magazine, our first guest is an award-winning journalist who serves as a reporter,
producer and editor for print, broadcast and digital media outlets nationwide. She contributes
regularly to “ESSENCE” Magazine, NPR, “Baltimore Sun,” and NBC.com. Her byline has appeared
in “O,” “Ebony,” “Black Enterprise,” the “Chicago Tribune,” “Los Angeles Times,” AOL, msnbc.com,
and more. Please help me welcome Mrs.-Donna M. Owens.
[Applause] Our next guest is from the Office of the Comptroller
of the Currency’s Deputy Comptroller for Community Affairs,
where he leads a department of community development professionals located here in Washington,
D.C. and the OCC districts. He leads a staff responsible for outreach to banks and their
community partners, the development of policy, and the creation and distribution of educational
materials on community development. Prior to joining the OCC in 1999, he was Director
of Affordable Housing Sales at Freddie Mac. Please give a warm welcome to Deputy Comptroller
Community Affairs, Mr. Barry Wides. [Applause]
Our next guest is a “silver rights” entrepreneur and businessman, author, thought leader and
philanthropist. He has been an advisor to the last three sitting U.S. presidents and
is currently a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young
Americans. He is also the best-selling author two of books. His most recent, “How The Poor
Can Save Capitalism,” is a Top 10 Book for 2014 for “ESSENCE” Magazine, a Top Business
Book of 2014 for CEO Read and Business+Strategy, and is the only best-selling book on economics
in the world authored by an African-American. Please welcome the Founder, Chairman and CEO
of Operation HOPE, and my boss, Mr. John Hope Bryant.
[Applause] Today I want to thank you very much. We have
a special guest and her long list of accomplishments is more than — I’m sorry. One second here.
She is a Chief Executive Officer of the King Center founded by her mother in 1968. She
is a graduate of Spellman College with a BA in psychology and earned a Master’s of divinity
and Doctorate of law degrees. The youngest daughter of the late Coretta Scott King and
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., she continues the legacy of non-violence. Please give a
warm welcome to Dr. Bernice A. King. [Applause] And our final guest hardly needs an introduction but his list of accomplishments more than
merits one. He was a key economist during the critical years of the civil rights movement.
He was elected to represent Georgia’s 5th District, the first African-American elected
from the South since Reconstruction. He was afforded by President Carter to serve as U.S.
Ambassador to the United Nations. He served as Mayor of Atlanta from 1982-1990, bringing
jobs and $70 billion in private investment. His many awards include the President’s Medal
of Freedom and Legion d,honneur. The man who needs no further introduction, it is my privilege
to welcome Ambassador Andrew Young. [Applause] And I have the privilege to introduce my good and dear friend, long-time fraternity brother
who you’ve seen on “NewsOne Now,” on CNN as a pundit, on every
hot breaking news story across the country, a dear friend of mine, Roland Martin. [Applause]>>Certainly glad to be here. We want to get
right to it. We got several folks who have planes to catch. They want to avoid the snow.
Ain’t that bad. Although DC does not know how to handle a little snow. I spent six years
in Chicago. About 15 years ago, I’m visiting DC, I’m standing in front of the White House,
decided to go for a walk at night. I’m looking to the left, the White House. Look to the
left, the White House. I go, this explains America right here. There’s only one department
that shares a lawn with the White House. Literally walk out of that building, right to the East
Wing, that’s the Department of Treasury. At the end of day it’s about money in America.
How important is it to us to understand Freedman’s Bank and the evolution of black folks in this
country realizing that America, the foundation of America is money, it is about money, it
is about capitalism. Anybody can jump in.>>Well, yeah. It was obvious that people who
were in slavery were not ignorant. I think there were 27 black millionaires
in Louisiana at the time of emancipation. There were tradesmen who were craftsmen who
had done all kinds of things but they understood that in addition to the right to vote, to
be free, you had to have access to capital. So a group of preachers meeting with Abram
Lincoln and Frederick Douglass insisted that there be some vehicle to
provide access to the economy for the former slaves. It was out of that discussion — we
tend to make a joke about 40 acres and a mule but they were very serious. If you had land
and a means of producing food out of it, you could survive. If you didn’t, you were still
a slave. They got the Freedman’s Bank but it didn’t last long because shortly — and
John, you probably need to say something about that. Shortly after Lincoln died it was just
a matter of days before they pulled the rug out from under the Freedman’s Bank. And it
was part of the whole end of reconstruction. It took them a little longer, but the blacks
who had been — well, I was in Congress in 1973. The last member of Congress from Georgia
was put out in 1871. I was elected in 1972. So for 100 years, we had no political representation
but they also took the economic representation by undercutting the Freedman’s Bank.
>>Roland, I’m going to just build on what Ambassador Young just said. Your question
which no one, by the way, in all of my years of doing this, had ever made the observation
that you just made. I make an observation that the only Executive Office Building, which
was the Department of War, and the White House, and U.S.Treasury are interconnected. And there
are tunnels underneath that lead because Lincoln needed
to go over to the Department of War and make decisions with the Civil War, go back to the
White House, codify that, go to the Treasury to pay for it, come back to the White House,
execute, then formalize what he just paid for, go back to the Department of War and
say go. And that was a constant conversation. It was the proximity of power. But particularly
no one I would recall as a respected black member of the sort of media elite or
the civil rights community has ever made the observations that you made, which I thought
was very — was brilliant. It’s a shared lawn. A shared lawn with money and political power.
That’s a book for somebody. That’s a book. But the story I think is deeper than that.
I want to thank my government relations chief telling me to go on a
museum tour during one of my meetings once. When I went to the Ford Theater, I got blown
away when I found out Lincoln signed the legislation for the Freedman’s Bank. So now I get curious.
I’ve been passing by history every day. So you’re standing in front of the White House,
Treasury is here. You got PNC Bank here. Here is the Treasury annex. So the President could
have put this anyplace he wanted, to your point about a shared lawn. Could have put
it in Virginia. There’s plenty of government offices in Virginia. Maryland, on the outskirts
of DC, plenty of important institutions on the outskirts of DC.
Put it where you went up to the residence, looked out the window, you could see if the
candles were burning and whether people were working. And it gets deeper than that. Two
months before the Freedman’s Bank, to Ambassador Young’s point, in Augusta, Georgia, the secretary
of war meets with 20 ministers and says: What do you want after the war? They didn’t say
I want welfare. They didn’t say I want entitlements.
They didn’t say I want handouts, even an apology. They didn’t say I want reparations. They said
we want land. We want to do for ourselves. They got 40,000 acres, Roland, from North
Carolina, along the coast, 30 miles in, all the way to the tip of Florida, assigned to
them. Within 30 days — the numbers are mind boggling. 30,000, 40,000 blacks, former slaves,
occupied the lands, planting in an agricultural range in the most unattractive land possible
because whatever you put in the ground is going to be in Jamaica tomorrow. It’s the
beach. But that didn’t matter. They took what they had. And the generals were so impressed
with them, the next month they said let’s reward them with the mules. That wasn’t a
slight. That was like giving somebody a tractor today. It was an investment. My God, they’re
so industrious, let’s encourage them some more. That took 45 days.
But it was action 15. Very important. It was not a legislative action. It was done in the
field. They were waiting for Congress to bring it back to Lincoln, get used to it, sign it.
Two months later Lincoln signed the Freedman’s act.
Now, you want to talk radical public policy. Hold on. Lincoln’s — 40,000 acres for former
slaves, then created the bank to finance the land and provide capital and teach them the
language and money in the free enterprise system. No wonder he was killed five weeks
later. He was killed literally five weeks after legislation, And the guy took over,
which is an embarrassment — President took over. Tried to reverse everything Lincoln
did. But he couldn’t reverse the Freedman’s Bank, couldn’t reverse — [Inaudible. It was
not legislatively enacted. That’s where, by the way, the rough riders came from, running
people off the land. It was all economics, to your point. It wasn’t personal. Slavery
was about business. How do you build a country for free? This was about
running you — when it went dark, there were no street lights, running you off your land
so they can claim economic interest. So Frederick Douglass comes in and the gamers
come in and speculate the bank, games the bank, changes the bank’s charter, and over
10 years ruins the bank. Frederick Douglass comes in with a stellar reputation, not a
spot, not a blemish. Not only did he try to save the bank, he put up what was then $10,000
of his own money which the Treasury Department tells me today is, hold on, $20 million. He
put up $20 million of his own money for a bank he knew had every chance of failing.
That’s how much he believed in us and how important he thought this bank was. The bank
had, in today’s dollars, $117– between $115, $117 billion
in assets. The same bank with the same valuation would be one of the top 100 banks in the America
today. Imagine how that would change everything. Everything. So when you say how important
this is, I felt like I tripped on the Magna Carta. To me, underneath all our problems
is politics.>>Bernice, in the “I have a dream” speech, first of all, for jobs and freedom
— we leave that out. Some of the black folks went for a walk that day. Only mentioned
equality one time. Repeatedly said freedom. If folks go beyond the same sound bites we
hear every single year, I have a dream on the mountain top and by the way listen to
the whole 47-minute speech and realize he talked about boycott in that speech. He always
talked about freedom. And he always talked about inalienable rights, birthright; meaning
we want the same thing white folks get the moment they’re born. And he was dealing with
economics because he came to a conclusion that you could go to a park, you could go
to a hotel, but if you did not have economic freedom, then you did not have freedom in
America.>Is that a question?>>[Laughter]
>>You’re exactly right. In fact, I think, and I’m just going to go out on a limb because
he always liked to spank me and correct me a little bit. But I think my father strategically
understood that they had to deal with segregation in the South first. Because what good was
it to quote/unquote integrate the money and that money was going to circulate in a small
community? So we had to gain access through civil rights legislation and voting rights
legislation. So in the back of his mind or in the front of his mind, perhaps, he was
already looking at addressing the economic issues in America. So in `66,
that’s when he began to delve into all of this. And just like you said, five weeks after
Lincoln signed this, in April, three months, four months after my father
announced the Poor People’s Campaign.>>Two weeks before the first march in Washington.>>
Right. He was assassinated.>>In April.>>In April. These ironies — I
don’t think it’s an irony but a coincidence. They exist. And the reality is when you start
really delving into the issue of wealth and money and particularly when you start talking
about bringing everybody along, it becomes very threatening. And it shouldn’t be. And
the beauty, I think, of what is happening through Operation HOPE, it’s lessening that
threat in my personal opinion. Because you’re coming at it in a whole different way by saying
let’s look at this as helping free market enterprise. You understand what I’m saying?
So, you know, yes, that was a heavy emphasis for my father’s work. A lot of people forget
that. I say he had three freedoms he spoke about.In fact, in the “I have a dream” speech,
the freedom to participate in government, the freedom to prosper in life, and the freedom
to peacefully coexist. Those were the three freedoms I think he addressed in “I have a
dream.”>>Let me correct just a minute.>>I told
you. Didn’t I warn you?>>[Laughter]>>
No. We could not talk about economics in 1955 because the House on American Activities Committee
was calling anybody that mentioned economics a Communist. They were putting white folk
in jail and taking them out of jobs.The genius of your father was that he did talk about
economics but he always talked about it in biblical terms. He quoted the Bible. He talked
about slavery of Egypt and wandering in the wilderness of segregation and coming into
the promised land of creative integration. That’s an economic theory. But he couldn’t
use the economic language because at that time it was really — you think it’s right-winged
now — to think in economic terms. And Rosa Parks never talked about integrating the buses.
She just talked about human dignity, being treated fairly. And it wasn’t that she didn’t
want those things but we deliberately pretended to be as conservative as we could be because
it was the only way to stay alive. I hate to remind you of this, but it wasn’t
until he started talking about money.>>That’s right.>>Oh, yeah.
>>When he started talking about Poor People’s Campaign. And when he pulled together 23 different
racial and minority groups and age groups — everything from age-dependent children
to the welfare rights movement to the AARP, which didn’t quite exist then but everybody
that was poor, Hispanic, Asian, Native-American were brought together in Atlanta. I think
it was the 23rd of January, right after his birthday. And he only made it to April. Once
he started talking about economic justice. I think we tried our best to stop him, to
slow him down. He understood that his days were numbered and that he did not want to
be — he said you’re going to die, everybody’s going to die. You don’t have any choice about
that. You don’t have any choice about when you die or how you die. The only choice you
have in life is what you die for. And he was determined to die for the poor. Even so much
that — he didn’t even tell us — when we were in Memphis, we were talking about — it
was Harry Belafonte, Dick hatcher, John Conyers and myself talking about how do we take the
energy of the movement into politics. And then we said, go on to bed and get some sleep;
you don’t have to be in Washington till 6:00 tomorrow night. We can catch the 10:00, 12:00
plane. You can get you some sleep. And as he walked to his room, he said, “You all go
on to Washington. I’m going to catch the 6:00 plane to Memphis.” I said, “What for?” He
said,” Don’t worry. I’ll meet you all in Washington.” But it was
almost deliberate on his part that when he felt his days were numbered, he wanted to
be with the poorest of the poor and chose to go to be with garbage workers to give his
life.>>I want to deal with your previous shout-out, dealing with housing. The university
study shows today the average white [inaudible] in savings, black, $5,000. Most Americans
are able to build up their wealth through housing. If you look at the housing patterns
in America from day one, at the end of the day, that’s how Americans were able to create
their wealth. Having African-Americans pushed into segregated areas, then having to purchase
homes at a higher amount than they actually were. Then, of course, you had the whole various
laws, the covenants. Whites were able to own homes in other places; property values go
up, sell it for a profit, take that money, invest that money in businesses or kids’ education
or in a savings. So we come to present day, we can’t ignore the reality of how the racial
dynamics in housing have played a critical role in there being economic inequality, income
inequality between whites and blacks in America. So recognizing that, and
the last six years we’ve lost 53% of black wealth to the home foreclosure crisis. It
will take two generations to recoup that money. So if we’re talking about a Freedman’s Bank
that dealt with investment, that dealt with focusing on the economic condition of African-Americans,
how then do we present day deal with housing policy and finance policies that are
contributing to the exact same income inequality today moving forward?>>So, really what you’re
getting at has to do with how we can — that we as federal regulators look at to provide
financial access that allows people to purchase homes, to build wealth. It has been difficult
since the financial crisis. Credit has tightened, although I think it’s easing. The administration
is looking to the Federal Housing Administration loan guarantee programs in terms of the lax
in some of the policies there in order to make it easier for folks to purchase homes,
relaxing a little bit of the requirements related to the mortgage insurance and so forth.
As we bank regulators evaluate things in terms of how they’re serving all the markets including
low-income individuals through our evaluations under the Community Reinvestment Act — and
the Community Reinvestment Act is a law that was passed by Congress in 1977 in order to
ensure that all Americans had access to financial services in the communities where the banks
are chartered. And we evaluate banks every three years to see how well they’re doing
in serving those markets. And then we might be — examinations
public and detailed. I think it’s a matter of building incentives from the regulators
to provide the necessary oversight, to ensure both from a fair lending standpoint the banks
are following the fair lending laws, and then incentivizing them through special provisions
under the Community Reinvestment Act to entice them to make loans in the inner cities, to
low-income individuals, on more flexible financing terms. And we have products such as the FHA
program in order to allow them to serve those markets more effectively.>>The next
question — but I have to ask you this. In the book “Confidence — he talked about there
was a moment in 2009 when the banks said this administration can do anything to us, we have
no choice but to follow them because they would
determine our fate. Did we fail in not mandating, mandating, that they refinance loans as opposed
to offer it as a voluntary option? Did that contribute to present day by not mandating
it when if it wasn’t for federal money, taxpayer money, those banks could not have survived?
Was that a mistake?>>I’m not familiar with the specific incident that you’re talking
about in his book. But I will say that for the course of the financial crisis, through
the Home Affordable Mortgage program that the Treasury Department administered, there
were millions of people who were able to take advantage of either refinances under the Fannie
Mae, Freddie Mac programs, as well as through using the money from TARP.>>The
HAMP program? The inspector general said about 700,000 folks were impacted. And some four
million were supposed to be impacted by that>>When you look at the
program administered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that provided streamlined refinances to
people through the financial crisis, as well as people that were assisted through the HAMP
money, as well as through voluntary loan modifications done by the financial institutions,
very significant number of people were able to take advantage of those programs and try
to work out a situation. There were admittedly a lot of people who lost their homes, some
of whom may have been able to save them. But for, you know, mistakes in terms of the way
the policies were administered but a very large number of people were able to use the
variety of programs throughout –>>What he’s saying, I’m a federal regulator and there
may be members of Congress in the audience who legislate what I do so I’m not going to
dig myself a hole. I’m not saying a word.>>[Laughter] [Applause] The only reason that
the 72,000 black former slaves that lost their money in the Freedman’s Bank, only reason
they got half their money back was because of the OCC. Really. The bank that actually
unwound it – won a Nobel Peace prize. Four comptrollers worked with that bank to get
the money back to former slaves then got half the money back to the depositors. This was
before FDIC insurance and that kind of stuff.>>Ambassador, then a question.>>Talk about
what could have been — if instead of bailing out the banks at the top they had given every
mortgage holder a year’s free mortgage, suspended their mortgage
for a year, they would have shared in the bailout. There were several women who had
that proposal available for the president and they were blocked from seeing the president.
The president never got that option on his desk. It was Larry Sommers, Rahm Emanuel.
>>Karl –>>[Laughter]>>And the people who protected the president from the realities
of poor people. And it’s not poor people. I mean, it’s the middle class homes that have
given a year to get on their feet. The banks would have still — banks would have still
made the money. The middle class would not have suffered,>>Barney Frank said his biggest
regret was not doing more to help the folks you’re talking about.>>But that was Elizabeth
Warren and Sheila Bair. There were three women.>>The FDIC.>>Three women who had proposals
that would have bailed the economy out from the bottom up.
>>Yeah.>>And the White House close — they saved the economy for the rich.>>And plus
a sister on part of the economic advisors who we never, ever heard from.
>>Who was she?>>Cecilia Roberts. Only reason she got on TV because it was my show>>[Laughter]
>>Seriously. I said I want somebody black. Don’t send anybody else. The reason — I know
I’m jumping around.>>This isn’t a black issue.>>No, no. Here’s
my point. You got a sister who was an amazing — from Princeton. And when we’re talking
about the issue of economic policies, it was never anyone other than President Obama, who
African-American speaking on it. And she was sitting right there as one of three appointed
members of the White House Council of Economic Advisors. I said, can she please talk sometimes?
My whole point is I felt America, especially our audience, needed to see that sister and
her brilliance on economic policy but for some reason she was always hidden. I got to
ask this question. The reason I sort of went there with housing and talked about Dr. King
and freedom is because when we look at black-owned businesses, 1.9 million owned in America.
Of the 1.9 million, 1.8 million only have one employee. 1.9 million unemployed black
folks in America. We’re talking about being able to get rid of black unemployment. It
also comes down to building capacity. Building capacity means able to get loans. No home,
no loan, no business. So from your perspective, how do we put Freedman’s Bank within the context
of present day to understand moving forward economically, especially with sisters being
such a chief engine driver, if you will, in black America when it comes to economics?
>>Thank you, Roland. First of all, “ESSENCE” Magazine has always been about empowering
black women. So when women pick up that magazine, and they read about hair and makeup tips,
they are also going to read about how to empower themselves with financial literacy. Last month
I worked on a story about African-American women and retirement. And one of the interesting
things that came up when I was doing my research and my
reporting was that there had been numerous studies and some data done, in particular
Wells Fargo had done some studies, about how African-Americans perceived themselves in
the context of what they envisioned their lives to be in retirement and what the realities
may be. So in doing those studies in that research, what we found was that so many people
— it was more than 50%. It may have even been as high as 70% of African-Americans said
that in retirement they envisioned a life of leisure. They envisioned travel. They envisioned
not having to work a part-time job. But then when you asked that same audience what their
goals were, had they sat down with the financial counselor, had they done any particular planning
in regards to their retirement, the answers were significantly different. So I think one
of the things that we have to talk about both with regards to businesses, African-American-owned
businesses, African-American women who owned businesses, are what are our goals as a nation,
what are our goals as a community. It’s wonderful to own a business. But if you’ve got one employee,
how can you build capacity so that then you can have two employees and three employees
and build your community as a result of what you’re doing?
One of things that I had an interesting conversation with some friends recently. A young student
from an HBCU contacted me recently. It’s a very emotional
story so I’m going to try not to get in tears here. He contacted me saying that he was a
student at an HBCU and he was in arrears in excess of, you know, $30,000. The university
in its compassion had allowed him to continue with this bill unpaid but unfortunately a
few days ago this young person did have to leave his dorm and is not in school this semester.
And I started talking to my friends around the country, men and women. And I’m a graduate
from a HBCU, Hampton University, proud graduate and also a graduate of Columbia University.
And so I started thinking and talking with my friends about, you know, what is happening
in our community that a student who desperately wants to go to school cannot continue in college.
We have enough wealth in the African-American community that that just should not be happening.
So I’m trying to do more stories and do more reporting about where we see ourselves and
where we are and what that vision should be in terms of us building and how we can coalesce
and galvanize our community in more tangible and concrete ways in order to achieve it.
It is absolutely wonderful to think that you are going to retire and sail the Riviera,
but what is your plan?>>John — go ahead.>>We don’t know. Let
me confess. When John talks about financial literacy, you all think about children. I’d
been a congressman, ambassador, was about to become the mayor. A lady —
>>You were the mayor. Governor.>>No. This was between then.>>Oh.>>[Laughter]>>Before
the mayor?>>Yeah.>>Gotcha. This young lady came up to me in church and said, “Do
you have a financial advisor?” I said, “No. What is that?.” And she said, “I’d like to
be your financial advisor.” And she was really cute.
>>[Laughter]>>I knew that was coming.>>I said to my wife — we in church.>>[Laughter]
>>She was still cute in church.>>I said, “But, Baby,” my wife —
>>[Laughter]>>I said, “This young lady wants to be our financial advisor.” And she
says — my wife understood we were in bad shape. She sat down with my wife. Never got
to be. But by the time she looked through all of the tuitions we had paid to get our
children through school, all of the times we had refinanced our house, all of the money
we had borrowed, and she put it together and gave me — and refinanced my house notes.
It saved me $973 a month. Now, I’m going to say it because it’s true whether you like
it or not. I’m one of the most important negro leaders –>>[Laughter] [Applause]
>>In the world and I’m banking like an ignorant nigger.
[Laughter]>>That’s what the problem is. I mean, no need in dressing it up.>>Oh my
God.>>This man has never had this before –>>[Laughter]>>But that is a critical
problem.>>Yes, it is.>>It’s a weakness of HBCUs. They don’t teach us about money. We
didn’t have a business school at — we didn’t have a business school until the `70s>>It’s
not of HBCU. It’s at HBCUs. They’re making their money on tuition and federal offsets.
They don’t have an endowment. They don’t have a backup plan. There’s no –>>The issue — first
of all, you’re absolutely correct. But also part of that –>>That’s not a criticism of
HBCUs.>>I understand.>>I love HBCUs>>I understand. But part of that also stems
from the fact that when you have folks who are going through, amassing significant amounts
of debt, you don’t have parents who are able — who are debt free, able to — they don’t
go to school debt free and in a situation as parents say we’re going to provide you
your down payment on your first home. So therefore when you make your first job making $35,000,
$40,000, you can actually take that and live on it and actually save and invest. So now
you’re positioned for the future. And when you also have frozen out of six-figure jobs,
then it exacerbates this whole issue.>>You’re too smart to let you get away with
that. I’m not going to et you get away-maybe that was one of your famous setups –>>No.
I’m going to back it up. Go ahead.>>Because you have articulated in a way during
the session that lets me understand you understand. So let me now come at you as hard –>>Go
right ahead.>>You can handle it.>>He can handle it.
You just sort of let us off. I’m not going to do that.>>No, I didn’t let us off.
>>There’s two ways to make money, make more or spend less. And if you’re smoking three
packs of cigarettes a day, going to Starbucks three times a week, that’s $6,000 a year.
If you making $36,000 a year, you just lift up the window and threw out 20% of your income.
And then you wonder why you broke. I know why you broke. You hang around nine broke
people, you’ll be the 10th. That’s why you broke. So wealth
is a culture like poverty is a culture. So James Buchanan — people think I’m a financial
— no. This guy said, John, you need to have a home warranty. I don’t need a home warranty.
The appliance goes out. You know, home warranty costs me nothing, relatively speaking. Appliance
goes out. That’s $800. Another one, then somebody put it in for you. That happens a couple of
times a year. You’re devastated. This warranty pays for everything. And you can get it at
Sears. My wife said we need to get a little warranty for a medical plan for our dog. I
said he is fine. All he does is run around. The dog does his business. That’s what he
does. Do you know the day after she said we should get the medical plan, day after he
had to go to the hospital, $2,500. So –>>He would have been one dead dog.>>[Laughter]
>>Animal lovers will get you.>>So, yes. We have to make more money. But
in the [Indiscernible] locations, person comes in looking for a loan. My last example. They
want a $5,000 loan. We have to start having a real talk with our people. If you come into
a bank looking for a $5,000 loan, you got $30,000 worth of problems. And your credit
is tow up from the floor up. You not getting a loan. I’ll say it. The bank has to take
your application by law. They’re going to decline you. Now you going to hate the bank.
The bank can now say, can you go across the hall? They come over to us. We say, how much
do you make? I make $34,000 a year. You have two children? Yeah. Have you ever heard of
the EITC? What’s that? You’re qualified. If you never heard of Earned Income Tax Credit
and you make less than $50,000 a year, you’re qualified. If you make $32,000 a year, you
have two children, the government owes you $4,000 a year. If you never filed, it’s retroactive
for three years. If you make $32,000 a year, $12,000 more money you’ve ever seen in one
time in your working life. It’s not a loan; it’s yours. You
earned it. But we don’t know it. We spend $10 billion a year.>>We did on TV One but
go ahead here’s the point.>>Something about her daddy. Bernice said
something about her daddy the other night. When you change an individual, what’s that?
>>The result, the revolution?>>Yeah.>>A movement that moves people is
a result but a social movement that transforms people in institutions is a revolution.>>Great
point.>>We’re in the process — and we always do it. We blaming ourselves as the victims.
But it’s structured for us to be like that.>>No. The point I was making when I
was talking about the jobs. When you look at historically African-Americans haven’t
been able to advance in public sector jobs. When all of a sudden you have folks — we
talk about small government. What’s the first thing that gets cut? Government jobs. So as
a result, you begin to lose those jobs. I go to the housing crisis in Detroit, you have
significant number of African-Americans who are principals, in education, and other public
sector jobs, when those jobs got cut, home foreclosures
went up because public sector jobs. So when you’re frozen out of private sector because
they don’t have the same, frankly, oversight if you will as the public sector, then you
sort of have that income and equality. So my point is, when we talk even from an education
standpoint, the education of African–American — college graduates have a double unemployment
rate than that of white college graduates. So we are told go get an education. We do.We
increase our debt because of student loans yet unemployment
is still double. So my point is, if I cannot qualify and get those high five-figure, sixfigure
jobs and I’m left at 45, 50, 55, then I’m not in a position to be able
to fully save and invest for my kids’ kids. And what makes matters worse, when you begin
to make $50,000 as a black person, you combine to support other family members as well because
the cycle continues. So all I’m saying is even if you not buying a Starbucks, you have
to pay for somebody’s diapers or childcare. And that prevents a lot of us from being able
to create — Ambassador John? That was my response to your statement>>We inherited
all of these problems in Atlanta and took them on. It was Mayor Jackson’s leadership
that decided that we could not make it on government money. The
difference between Atlanta and Chicago — I mean, and Detroit is Detroit depended on government.
They could go to Lansing, they could go to Washington, and they could get money. They
got powerful with government money. We couldn’t go to the golden dome in Atlanta. They didn’t
help us. We got to the place where we couldn’t go to Washington. So we started going to Wall
Street. The end result of Atlanta building its airport
on Wall Street was — well, starting out, we have spent $10 billion
on the airport since 1981. It has not cost the citizens of Atlanta one penny. We got
tax-exempt municipal bonds. They pay for themselves. This year the airport earned — in 2014, it
earned $32 billion and generated 400,000 jobs. And at least half of the businesses and half
of the jobs are people that look like us.>>To that point — I’ve often used Mayor
Jackson as the model for politicians. How do you or how do you propose us moving — anybody
can jump in — propose us getting presently elected officials to think about Mayor Jackson
within that way in terms of how you use political power and economic power to be able to affect
the economic condition of your community?>>I think that we are putting too much — I
say this respectfully now — too much credit and too much pressure on politicians. The
people who change the world weren’t politicians. They impacted politicians, Dr. King and Andrew
Young and others impacted politicians who then made changes. But — President Johnson
wasn’t sitting around saying, you know, let me find another civil rights legislation to
pass. After he did the first one, he was done, actually, until additional — Selma, pressure
was put on him. When Ambassador Young was talking to Nelson Mandela, he had just become
elected. Said what are you going to do for poor people. Mandela said, What are you going
to make me do? Ambassador said, What do you mean?>>True story? Ok.>>[Laughter]
>>Somebody going, will he confirm it?>>[Laughter]>>I try to represent everybody today. Not
just poor people, black people; I have to represent everybody. Make a case. Let me tell
you what I was trying to say earlier. I’ll say — back to the Freedman’s Bank. What breaks
my heart about the Freedman’s Bank is not the access to the capital. It’s not the 40
acres and the mule. It’s not anything other than this.>>The literacy of people?
>>We never got the memo. All that it’s about, in my opinion, is imagine working at TV One
or wherever, wherever you work, and for three months you got your direct deposits, office,
nice car, everything. No one’s denying you. But they cut off your e-mail. They cut off
your inner office mail. No one meets with you, talks to you. For three months you have
been locked out of information. But yet TV One comes in and, whoever, tell me about the
strategic direction of your organization. If you want to keep your job, my guess is
you keep your mouth shut. Because you’re all locked up. Imagine
being locked out for 150 years. 150 years, Roland. We never got the memo. There’s a memo
on free enterprise and capitalism. There’s a memo on how the system works. And Ambassador
Young is right. There were systems set up against them. Slavery was about money. Jim
Crow was about money. The Civil War was about money. You said it earlier. It’s all, at the
end of the day, about money underneath politics. I hate to say it. It’s money, all too often.
So, but we — we — we were denied the memo. What I want to do — the memo. I want to deliver
the memo.>>Let me follow-up on that. That was what a lot of our conversation was earlier
today about the HOPE Centers and the HOPE Inside. It’s having access to a financial
counselor, to be able to understand how you can access a Small Business Administration
loan, an FHA-insured mortgage.>>Barry, one second. Bernice has to leave. A final comment.>>
[Laughter]>>Whoo!>>You wasn’t going to sneak out.>>I’m just going to say ditto
to everything that has been said. I don’t know if I have a real final comment.>>Make
a pitch for the King Center.>>Oh.>>I’m trying to help you. Raise some money. Something.
>>I’m not a fundraiser but I would love to have money for the King Center to continue.
>>What’s the website?>>Non-violence 3kingcenter.org.>>You said that your daddy’s last book was
“Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?>>Yeah.
>>And that’s not racial. If we don’t have community, we’re going to have chaos.>>Right.
And right now we have a lot of chaos.>>Let me ask you –>>This will help us get to
community>>On your way out, to sort of pivot off what Ambassador Young said, what would
you say — you’re one who can bridge from really two generations of a combination of
civil rights and — if I said we can celebrate Dr. King, we should — we salute
Selma, “I have a dream,” respect the anniversaries, all of that stuff, but we need to upgrade
our software as a people. We can’t just keep looking back 55 years and singing I have a
dream. We have to come up with a plan and strategy relevant to today. You’re somebody
who has one foot in both worlds. Is that a legitimate observation or not?>>A legitimate
in terms of upgrading our software? No. I think that’s very legitimate. Daddy even spoke
about that. You have to have a new mental outlook in terms of what the situation demands.
And the situation today demands that we have a different approach to the way we do things.
We’ve got to find a way to connect the generations, though, in the process of it. Because I think
there’s value to the history and the strategies of the past and the movement. And there’s
strength obviously. And foresight way down the road for a new generation. So having intergenerational
discussions and dialogues, I think are very important. What I appreciate, at least today,
is the frankness of this conversation. I think that’s very important because you’re right.
We don’t have honest discussions. And we have to start doing it and stop making the excuses
because we’ll be doing that forever. And we need each other. One of the things she was
saying in terms of the black-owned businesses, one employee, we’ve got to stop pushing into
this whole notion of having my own, not recognizing my interconnectedness with other people. We
can create LLCs and still be a legitimate business owner and have others working alongside
of us. And that way we can employ more individuals. But if we’re still caught on I got to have
mine, we’re not going to get there. So when daddy was working on integration — we talk
about integration messed us up. Integration didn’t necessarily
mess us up. Daddy says specifically we’re not trying to integrate into a value system.
We lost critical and important values in our community. And we got to go back and reclaim
those values if we’re going to build our community. So we got caught caught up in individualism.
[Applause] Trying to get those corporate jobs and we were tunnel visioned. We don’t understand
if nothing else, we have a responsibility — everybody has a responsibility to each
other regardless of your race, ethnicity. We have a responsibility to each other. But
you always have a responsibility first and foremost to your own family. So when you look
at it that way, we as African-Americans have to understand our responsibility to each other.
And we got to continue to lift our other brothers and sisters as we are climbing. You know,
the middle class, as we advance, we can’t not go back into these communities in some
form or fashion. We cannot not bring others along with us as we are climbing. Because
that undermines who we are as a people. That’s it. I’m out.
I got to catch my plane. [Applause]>> While she’s going, let me give you one of her father’s illustrations of what she just said. You hear the serious Martin Luther King but he said,
look, some of you all think that when you stop drinking gin in a brown bag on the corner
and wine on the next corner and you mix it in one cup and call it a martini, you think
you integrated.>>[Laughter]>>That’s not what we’re fighting for. [Applause]>>And
y’all know, anybody who a preacher will not pass up final comments. I don’t know why — before
I interrupted you. Finish your comments.>>We were talking about the HOPE Centers,
other financial community development, financial institutions, some of the small business administration
centers, the minority business administration centers are all out there as a resource to
help individuals who want to begin to develop a business plan. The interpreters that we’ve
heard from at lunch today that are coming through the HOPE Centers, learning about how
to develop a business plan to borrow through the Small Business Administration. Those are
all really excellent programs that are engaging financial institutions that are partnering
with these nonprofit organizations like Operation HOPE in hopes that these individuals will
become customers; that they can then provide financial services to them once they sort
of graduate from the counseling groups and the financial assistance and technical assistance
groups. So I see some hope. I’m optimistic. I really
do think the HOPE operation, the HOPE model is an example that other financial institutions
can either integrate into their models or work with other organizations because I do
think the partnership between a bank and a nonprofit that’s trying to help with economic
empowerment is a very strong model. One that we as bank regulators encourage and one — regulators
encourage and one that we do under the investment act.>>I believe in — call it actions and
plans of action.>>Let me give you one.>>That’s what I was about to do.>>I’ve got
three things on my bucket list. We’ve been trying — and John, you know. John and I tried
six years ago to get — write a bank account law passed. We were not able to get anybody
to understand that having a bank account is essential
to being in capitalism, having access to capital. We didn’t do that. Last year I found that
in India they developed a system that they realized that their poor people were not getting
their money, whether it was food stamps, health benefits. They were ripped off by check cashiers
and payday lenders. So India developed a universal ID for poor people. It includes 10 fingerprints,
two iris scans, a photograph, a bar code, a number, and a signature. And all of the
money going to the poor — and it also includes a no frills bank account. So all the money
going to the poor of India goes directly to the bank account and nobody can get it except
somebody that can match all of those things. And they’ve set up that for 700 million people
in the last two years. And it cost them a little over $1 per person.>>You’re talking
about the ID part?>>The ID part. Which means — but then I found out — this is how the
Lord works. I found that out on my way to Seattle to speak to a business group at a
prayer breakfast. It suddenly dawned on me that all of the companies that did this for
India were located in Seattle. I said, Lord, you talking to me.>>[Laughter]
>>I said, if you all can do this for India, why don’t do it right here in Washington?>>
So Secretary — don’t lose your spot. The Treasury Secretary –I met with him last week.
I won’t say anything out of sort but I think the public part of the conversation he would
not mind me sharing was he said he was in India and in my —
one of the recommendations in the book is a bank account for all at birth. Electronic
account. Right? There’s no reason why we can’t do what he’s talking about. He was in India,
a month — sorry. Two months after the prime minister passed this new mandate, the bank
account for all, Roland, he said that they have opened 100 million accounts in two months.
>>700 million in two years.>>The ID piece I think.>>No. But the ID piece and the banking
piece>>Are connected.>>Now all the government money goes through the banks. And you can
go to the grocery store with your ID, you can go to the
doctor with your ID. You’ve got an account. Nobody can have access to it but you. Now,
I’m leaving here to go to Seattle in the morning. Because the governor invited me to come to
meet with him. And I’m saying to the governor, look, I don’t know what we can do in Washington
but if you all can do this in India, why not do it in Washington?
Now, the inventor of all of this is from California. I said, if you can talk to California and
Oregon and you do this on the West Coast, pretty soon we’ll even do it in Georgia. But
we not going to embrace an idea until somebody else
makes it work.>>Absolutely. Donna, call to action, plan of action.>>Yes. I wanted to
talk about what you said earlier about once we’ve attained a certain educational or social
achievement we tend to then have to take care of our families. First of all, that’s a good
thing. I think that the model that we once had where African-American families and other
families of other ethnicities in this country sometimes they lived in the same neighborhood,
sometimes they lived in the same house. And while that model may not work now in terms
of, oh, I don’t want you in my business or that sort of thing, there was a belief system
I think that was in place at that time that we
should be helping our family, that if my brother or my cousin needs a loan or if they need
any assistance whether it’s childcare, that model to me seemed to work for our families
at a particular point in time. Now, we may not have to move our families all back in
the same home but I think we do need to return to that model of it is not a burden if someone
calls me and needs some assistance. There should be family pools. There should be collective
family bank accounts.>>[Inaudible]>>Yes. I think about people like –>>[Inaudible]
>>Remember the washer woman that some years ago everyone was amazed because she had a
washer woman’s salary and then was able to provide scholarships for kids?
>>$150,000.>>Yes, sir. Yes, sir. So you know, you don’t necessarily have to make a
lot to save. And I do believe that model of families beginning to collectively build together
is one that could be perhaps effective for us at this particular juncture in history
where people are isolating themselves at the computer and so forth and so on. I think it’s
time for us to return to our families and the family being our individual families and
our collective community family. And it shouldn’t be a matter
of, you know, oh, he’s — Jo-Jo’s calling me needing a loan again. Well, if Jo-Jo needs
a loan, and particularly if Jo-Jo needs a loan to go to college or something productive,
what is the problem with that? What is the problem with that?
I’m not going to pretend, you know, we all want someone calling in the family begging
for money. It can be a problem. But at the same time, where is that
sense of community, collectivity and spirit that used to be endemic in the black community?
You were not going to go to church and someone — and say that something was going on and
someone was not going to pass the hat. And you didn’t have to be ashamed to do that.
I think in so many ways we have achieved so much socially, economically, despite the fact
that we may not be where we want to be. But some of those values, as Bernice King alluded
to, slipped through the door when we integrated. And I’d like to see some of them return.
>>Barry, call to action? Plan of action? Public policy or personal. Take your pick.
>>I think I come back to the point made a few minutes ago about the fact that there
is a whole established industry of nonprofit organizations, community developments, financial
institution that are trying to work in low-income communities to try to work with underserved
populations, those who have been excluded from the financial mainstream, those that
are not using financial services at banks as much as they could and to find an operation
to partner with in their communities. There are hundreds and hundreds of nonprofits doing
the kind of work that we’re talking about. Small business, technical assistance, homeownership
education. There are organizations that offer incentive, matching the savings programs that
use philanthropy to match savings if an individual goes through a financial education. We’ve
seen financial institutions begin to partner as we talked about before with
Operation HOPE and others. And I guess my call to action would be to encourage more
financial institutions to engage in those partnerships.>>John?>>I want to finish
with where Freedman’s Bank started. So my mission between now and 2020 is to open 1,000
HOPE Inside locations, inside of bank branches, credit unions, grocery stores, big box retailers,
houses of faith, government offices, to do mortgage counseling, consumer credit
counseling, small business entrepreneurship counseling and funding, mortgage restructuring.
We opened 100 locations last year alone. It’s not just dreaming. And to what goal? To move
credit scores to 700. Four-square block area by four-square block area. I believe nothing
changes your life more than God or love than moving your credit score to 700 points. You
think today the problem you and I have — when you and I go home, we’re going to pass by
a neighborhood you and I care about whether it’s black and brown urban, whether it’s white
rural, or outside of a military base which is all races, here’s what we find: a check
cashier next to a payday loan lender, next to a rent-to-own, next to title and lender,
next to liquor store. It’s not racism. It’s target marketing.
They’re targeting a 500 credit score customer. All we do is rob you of your customer — rob
them of their customers by moving credit scores 120 points. So jobs today require credit checks,
half of jobs. 80% of jobs are government. People can’t get a job without the credit.
If you move the neighborhood from a 550 credit score to a 670 credit score, you have also
created customers for banks. Let me bring this home. We’re putting a home
inside in Ferguson, Missouri, next month. I want to thank Regis Bank for doing that.
And is [Indiscernible] still here? CEO of — I wish [Indiscernible] was here earlier.
Let him know I gave him a shout-out. He would have something to say about this. We have
found that when we do this, Roland, we migrate these credit scores, we’re creating elf-esteem,
creating personal confidence, changing behavior, changing culture, and creating sustainable
customers for financial institutions and others. And I think that that has a knockon effect
that could change America and at the same time create a tax base and voters. Ferguson.
What is the most racially divided, un — [Inaudible] city in America? Ferguson, Missouri. 3% white
un– [Inaudible]. The most racially divided unbanked city in America, with a 6% voter
turnout. So underneath these social issues is poverty. We’re going to attack that at
its root.>>Go ahead.>>I got a different action plan for Ferguson.
>>Go ahead.>>I’m going to bring them back to Mississippi. Everybody in Ferguson came
from North Mississippi. Moved north to Memphis. The best place in America to live right now
is in small towns in the South. If you want to retire, since air-conditioning and integration,
you can’t beat the South.>>[Laughter]>>And all we need — I mean, George Washington Carver
changed the South with a new crop, peanuts. We got some new crops
that we’re trying to put on land of some of these — it’s the people who helped us in
the settlement in Montgomery, the land owners. Their children went to Ferguson. But these
old folks are still down there and still got land. They just don’t have the energy or the
crops to do it. We’ve got a crop that we can introduce for free across the South.
And the Department of agriculture has already helped — will agree to help the farmers have
micro loans to revive their farms. We’re getting veterans across
the South who are coming back home to own the trucking companies to do the harvesting
and tillage. And there’s no tillage. It’s a water crop. It’s something called duck weed.
You put it on top of any pond and you can grow catfish under it. It has a growth hormone.
Catfish will grow full-grown in six weeks. You’ve got a farm — duck weed, when you farm
it and process it, it becomes ethanol, a protein, or a biomass energy source. It’s something
I found in Africa about 30 years ago. I had seen it in the South. I said, you know, God
put this on earth for something. We just haven’t found out what it was. Then I found an old
moonshine Cajun and a black Marine Corps veteran down in Louisiana who have figured out how
to process this and turn it into protein for $100 a month –I mean, $100
a ton when protein on the world market is selling for $2,000 up. That’s a big profit
margin. Farmer won’t get it all. We’ve got to get another group of growers — the successful
farmers who survived after Selma are doing fairly well. But they’re going to own the
processing plants that process this and market it. And the most needed product in the world,
India has put $5 billion out to increase the protein availability in their children’s diets.
Nigeria, South Africa, Mexico, the whole world needs something that we can grow in the South
for nothing.>>Wow.>>Now you need to get some overalls.
I got you.>>The thing is, you can harvest it in a Brooks Brothers suit.>>[Laughter]
[Applause]>>We’re not talking about plowing with a mule. We’re talking about an automated
system that will take this to the bank. You can wear your shirt and tie.>>Anybody
out there who said you were tired today or this week or tired last week? He’s 82 years
young talking about bringing a whole new industry. Come on. [Applause]>>A couple of things.
First, when you talked about credit scores, you talked about action plan, what’s next.
One of them for me, absolutely doing away with these state
laws, allowing folks to factor in these credit scores and jobs. The first job offer I had,
the Birmingham News, all the editors wanted to hire me. But in Alabama that was in 1991,
they had the state law that allowed them to use your credit score to deny you a job and
the H.R. department did that. I never let the Birmingham News forget that. So I think
from a public policy standpoint, that’s one of the things that we can do to drive —
>>And a Congresswoman sitting –>>To get rid of the state laws.>>When these folk
come back from Ferguson and take over this land, with their grandparents, see, they change
the policy. We got more black elected officials in Mississippi than they do in Missouri.
I mean, this is just opening up to me. At the prayer breakfast last month, Miss Mississippi
sang for the prayer breakfast. I used to get tired of all of these long-legged, fine blonds
being Miss Mississippi. I looked around and Miss Mississippi was a long-legged black,
beautiful sister. And I said, “Where are you from?” She said, “Mississippi State.” I said,
“What are you studying?” “Biochemistry.” And you are Miss Mississippi? You better come
back.>>[Laughter]>>So you were talking about biochemists.
I understand.>>I was singing The Lord’s Prayer.>>Right.
Right. Right. You talking to me.>>[Laughter]>>I want to acknowledge by the way — [Inaudible]
>>For a second. We heard this earlier, having these honest conversations. What I mean marching
orders, literally things that we can do leaving here to put into plan. My parents retired.
They were going to move into a small apartment in Houston. I said, “I got a house in Dallas
paid for. You can live there.” “Rent free? Good idea.” Four hours away but still. So
they go there. They had all of these ideas. They want a standup shower. I don’t know.
Y’all can do whatever you want to. Then I called them back. I said, no, I’m going veto
your plan. One, it was my house. But I told them. I said, look being — look, when they
retired, this was four years ago, they were 63. I said, why
are you going to create new debt at 63? The shower’s fine. The tub is fine. I’m vetoing
the idea. I said, you dealt with debt all these years when we were kids. Why create
new debt now because you wanted this dream something in a house and so you want to do
it now. It makes no sense. Same thing with my wife and I raising my six nieces. We would
go to dinner. I said, there’s too many damn people.
Seriously. After church they said, hey, we’re going out. I said, no, we’re not. And I said,
it’s six of y’all. Yeah. How much do you think it cost us every Sunday
to eat and feed all of y’all at a restaurant? I said, $150, $175, sometimes $200 times four.
Times 12. I said, now who pays for your tutors? A couple were three grade levels behind. That’s
a whole other story. So I began to walk them through. So from that point on, I had honest
conversations with them. This is how much your
iPad cost, how much your laptop costs. And this is why I’m not going to fix it. So I
was talking to another couple. They said, it never dawned on us to actually have those
real conversations with their kids on so I forced them now. We have economic conversations.
How much is that? You want to go out? You got to pick that book or you want to go over
here?>>That’s all well and good. But you’re making them adjust to a bad situation.>>No,
I’m talking about — the parents or the kids?>>Everybody.>>I’m paying for everything.
I don’t know how bad that is. I’m paying for everything.>>And both of you are wrong.
>>How so?>>We are talking about changing the economy of the South.>>No, no. Can’t
you change the economy of the South until you change somebody’s mind?>>Yes.>>How
–>>Yes.>>How –>>You don’t have to change anybody’s mind but Bill Gates. Listen
a minute. You’ll learn something.>>[Laughter]>>[Inaudible] [Multi-voice overlap]>>I
got nothing to lose and I ain’t ashamed. Every idea I had was put down by my parents and
people like you. Who are educated intelligent negroes who thought it was a shame to go to
jail. Now, I’m telling you — you talked about the land
that was given by Lincoln.>>Yeah.>>Along the East Coast of Georgia. Almost 100 miles
from Atlantic ocean. Now, I didn’t know whether Lincoln knew that but
we opened up a treaty with the Panama Canal in the Carter Administration. And I’ve been
waiting for those big boats to come in from Panama since the Carter Administration. Because
there’s no place on the East Coast for them to land. They can’t get into Philadelphia.
They can’t get into Boston. They can’t get into Baltimore. They might get into Virginia.
But the Navy’s got that. See? You see the Atlanta airport?>>Two separate conversations.>>
We’re going to build that on the East Coast of Georgia. 40 miles out to sea. And we’re
going to have the only place on the East Coast where these big ships can land. And they will
land there. We will unload them there. We will take them in to Savannah, Beaufort, Charleston,
Brunswick and Jacksonville, all areas where heavy black folk live. All of the trade of
the rest of the 21st Century is going to come in and out of the United States through Georgia.
Now, if you’ve got any land in Georgia, hold on to it. When we started talking about an
airport 30 years ago, it was crazy. I’m telling you, within 10 years this — maybe five years.
This will exist 40 miles off the coast of Savannah and all the land between Savannah
and Highway 75, much of which is owned by poor black folk, is going to be the boom area
of the United States of America. And if you got any money, if you want to invest any time,
if you want to move someplace and retire in luxury — when we start growing duck weed
and bringing in all of these shipping and having all of these assembly plants — you
think I’m laughing. But we just brought Mercedes to Atlanta, damn it.>>Ambassador, I got
to ask you and ask John –>>And Porsche came last month. We’re not talking about the
past. We’re not talking about the problems. We’re building the future. [Applause]
>>I got to ask the two of you –>>That’s what black folks have always done. They thought
Eli Whitney invented cotton gin. It was some brother – you know
nobody from Yale could invent the cotton gin. [Multi-voice overlap]>>I’m from Houston.
I got it. I have to ask you this. You have to deal with it. How do you reach that person
in Ferguson or in Chicago — I’m saying, to say come to Mississippi?>>You can reach
them with a magnate. And the magnate is the money on his granddaddy’s farm.>>We’re having
— we’re really having two different conversations.>>No, we’re not.>>Let me finish. Let me finish.
>>No, you’re talking about the problem and I already got the solution.>>[Laughter]
>>[Inaudible] I hear this every time. Look, what he’s saying is absolutely right. Everything
he is saying makes sense. It’s a macro plan. Great. I’m talking about a micro plan. What
you talking about with your nieces was a micro plan. It’s not in conflict with each other.
It’s just two different lanes on the highway. Can I answer his question?
>>No.>>Yes, you can.>>He said I can answer his question.>>Yes, you can.>>Let me answer
the question.>>No, because it’s like we’ve already answered this question.>>[Laughter]
>>We answered it. We answered it when Thurgood Marshall, bless his heart — and he was right
from 1941 to 1960. But in 1960 we said, ok, court by court, case by case, you right. But
later for that, we going to change the South. And it might mean going to jail. You breaking
the law — my parents pleaded with me not to hook up with the likes of Martin Luther
King and Ralph Abernathy. Those were considered trifling, ignorant, young negroes who would
never amount to anything. That’s what educated folk like y’all said about us. You did. And
it wasn’t until the march on Washington, it’s like, you know,
that you finally realized that when white folk embraced us, it was all right. We were
not popular.>>John. John.>>Hold it. One, to your question, I would
mandate that every family has a family financial meeting once a week and talk honestly about
how the light bill gets paid, how the phone bill gets paid so that kids understand, the
family understands what the stuff costs. Number two, on the kids’ birthday next time, don’t
get them a trinket. Get them one share of stock. You can get a stock certificate. We
had a kid Derrick, went through our financial literacy program. In Houston actually. And
the kid after the second time watching a banker in a suit, fourth time came to class with
a suit on. And graduated. I go to the kid, how you feel about this? I’m feeling
good. His friends say, man, that ain’t about nothing. You need to hang out with us. I said,
I’m going to give you three $30. Make decision. You have three minutes. Said we don’t need
three minutes. We want Air Jordans. Everybody’s got air Jordans. Derrick says, no, I want
one share of Nike stock. The friends said, man, that ain’t nothing. You don’t want no
stupid stock. Everybody in school has got Air Jordans. I got to defend Derrick. He’s
gone to the class now, gone through what we’re talking about, a course in dignity. He hung
around Ambassador Young. The kid says, no, no it’s cool. I want them to buy
those shoes.>>[Laughter]>>Because when they do they’re
making me money. Most poverty I believe is here and here before it’s ever here. Half
of poverty is low self-esteem and lack of belief in yourself and lack of confidence
and crappy role models and a crappy environment. We have to reshape the environment. That’s
why I like that real talk conversation. That’s real love, too. There’s a lot of love in the
word no. I love you.>>That’s a lot of damn money.
>>And the third thing I would suggest, everybody can do, for $41.60 a month, they can put $41.60
a month and invest what I’m calling a B-minus business compact internship. We’re going to
relaunch the apprenticeship generation. For $500 — if a kid who has a A-plus will be
fine. The kids with Ds, Cs, Fs, I want them to be inspired to get a B-minus. If they finish
that pledge, we will give them a six-week business internship. And $500 pays for a business
suit, business cards, transport, transportation money, food money. In six weeks the business
will change the kid and the kid will change the business.
One barbershop owner — a barbershop with four employees can afford to pay $500 for
a year for one intern or a dentist shop or a big company can get 100 kids. Focus brand
told me they’re going to do multiple. But for $41.60 a month everybody in here can make
it their personal pledge if they wanted to do that. That in and of itself would connect
education with aspiration. Make smart sexy again. We’ve been making dumb sexy for a long
time. It will change the aspirations of a generation of young people.>>When John said
you have micro and macro, you have big business moving future. At the end of the day it means
literally doing something now. We’re talking about celebrating Freedman’s Bank. That is
about looking at what took place 150 years ago. But how do you move that legacy moving
forward? And there are multiple ways in doing it. Policy, personal, business,
working, all of those different ways to do it. And so that’s what’s critically important.
Right now for some brief comments, from the 18th Congressional District in Houston, Congresswoman
Sheila Jackson Lee. [Applause] >>What a breath of fresh air for
those of us who have just landed from the Hill.>>[Laughter]
>>We’re talking about the real world.>>Saving the security of our nation from going on the
brink. We successfully, Democrats, and I know we’re in a bipartisan
room, successfully caused the vote for the Department of Homeland Security and it is
now funded.>>Nice. [Cheers and Applause] We stood with our president.
And we realize that he has authority that others do not see. We recognize that our work
has to get done. Those courts can pursue their challenges but the areas of the executives
should be protected. So we thank you for that. Many of you know that we came from a moment
of chastising and lecturing on the security of this world which, again, President Obama
is handling with adeptness, astuteness and I think profoundness. I truly believe Americans
will stand with our president on the negotiations of the Iranian nuclear proliferation secession
and for peace of the world. We are standing with him. We understand the right to lecture.
And we wish the prime minister well as he goes home.>>[Laughter]
[Applause]>>John, that was a very polite conversation. I did not want to say more.
But I thought in breaking news it was important to let your audience know. Let me just say
that I really came to honor you and to thank all of the panelists, including Donna Owens
and Mr. Wides who works well with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, my dear
friend Ambassador Young, certainly my fellow Houstonian who you have enjoyed so much, Roland,
astute in his own right. And Dr. Bernice King who I had the privilege of seeing as she left.
With all seriousness, my words in the beginning were serious. I think it’s important to be
aware of current events and what we face in Washington because we
need to be partners in the excellent work that is being spoken about right here. I think
the last time I saw John besides being in Houston with his wonderful mother was when
he invited me to Wall Street. He is standing on the shoulders of Ambassador Young. He is
a breakout man. And he has taken us to levels that have far
exceeded some of our own thinking. We appreciate that, John. I believe at this appropriate
time, March 3, 2015, the 150th Commemoration of the Freedman’s Bank, which for me is an
emotional time, to note that 70,000 depositors, $57 million, to know that President Lincoln
signed it five days preceding his death. Texas is a place that associates itself with 1865
for we celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation in something called Juneteenth for Texans
did not get the word that we had been liberated, that we were free, that we were no
longer slaves until Captain Granger arrived on Galveston shores and said you are free.
So you can imagine we feel the symbolism of this day that John has so aptly come and brought
these brilliant presenters to Washington. I’d almost say that to be diplomatic — this
wasn’t a diplomatic day on The Hill except for the victory on
Department of Homeland Security. But to be diplomatic, I agree with all the discussions
here. As Ambassador Young said, we need to wrap ourselves around all of the new vision
regarding the civil rights that Dr. King actually spoke about even as he finished his life in
Memphis, speaking about the economic opportunities of sanitation workers. But he was headed to
Washington on the Poor People’s march not to keep poor people poor but to challenge
this government of what you were going to do about wealth inequality. Has anybody
heard those words? Wealth inequality? Here we are now some 50, 50some years later, 1968,
the time of his death and headed off to the Poor People’s march, talking about how we
can embrace our young people to be able to get them to understand that their equality
rights are tied to their pocketbook rights. John, I support you wholeheartedly. I did
something right in Houston revolving around young people being taken as interns in the
private sector when we lost the federal moneys for jobs. It was an amazing experience, an
amazing experience, about the business person and the young person, high school students,
whose lives were changed. In this instance it was a job and a business. And they were
given the kind of responsibility and association with the business
owner to be able to see what it means to own a business. In your instance, you have a similar
approach. In the approach of the Ambassador, he has a new approach. And that approach is
for us to get up and grab hold of our destinies as it relates to our economic engine.
In the South I welcome all who will come back to the south but at the same time I know the
Ambassador stands with me. For those who remain in Ferguson, let’s get them straight. Let’s
get the dignity of dealing with their issues of economic inequality but also justice issues.
The let’s get them straight as well so we work on a bilateral, on a two-pronged two-highway
approach to be able to commemorate this 150th anniversary and commemoration. I close on
this note along with the idea of the economic engine that we speak of. Trade bills will
be coming. There’s the African Growth and Opportunity Act. It is something that I think,
John, I hope you will engage in so that there is a presence for African-Americans and minorities
in these trade opportunities. There are challenges with them as it relates to jobs in the United
States. But I also want us to embrace this message for our historically black colleges
which every day face challenges on The Hill for their survival and their existence. And
even today the intelligentsia of our community are being educated in historically black colleges
as they are in the Harvards, Yales, and Princetons. But I think we should take a special interest
in making sure that the scholars that we have in these colleges are exposed to your work.
You remember that you worked right after Hurricane Katrina with young
people from across the country on the earned income tax credit. My son was one of those
who enjoyed having that privilege of working and understanding your work.
So I think you have a base of support by the numbers of historically black colleges and
state African-American colleges to be able to lift your message,
the message of the Ambassador, Roland, the message that the comptroller is speaking of,
Donna, great communicator, to say we are changing our whole attitude for the 21st Century. We’re
marching with you as we march this weekend across the bridge for the 50th Anniversary
of the Voting Rights Act, as we re-register people to come back to the polls and self-empower
by viewing this vote as something important. Numbers are dastardly when it comes to us
voting in our community. But as we do all of that, that we reinvest in your message
and that is the silver message in that we have all of the population garnering this
effort and marching to victory. I’m looking for a Freedman’s Bank. I’m looking for a chairman
of that bank. I’m looking for billions of dollars being invested in that bank not only
from African-Americans but from those who say this is a great bank to be in. This is
a bank that is not going to go broke. This is a bank that has a door open for people
from all walks of life. This is a bank that is a staying power. This is the Freedman’s
Bank of the 21st Century. This is America’s bank. Again, thank you, John, for telling
me about this great day today and inviting me. It’s so good to see you again. And count
me as a soldier on the battlefield for ensuring that we are lifting ourselves up so that we
fly high where the eagles fly, that we fly where we belong.
God bless all of you. God bless the United States of America. [Applause]>>Give it up
for our panel, Donna Owens, Barry Wides, Bernice King, and, of course, the introvert Ambassador
Young.>>[Laughter] [Cheers and Applause]>>I really was being good today.
>>[Laughter]>>The thing that I fight about all the time is whenever we start blaming
the problems on ourselves and what we have done wrong, there seeps in a sense of victim.
And we have never been victims unless we decide to be victims. I had a granddaddy — my son
reminded me. Said, your granddaddy in Franklin, Louisiana, somehow got a way to manage and
mount $4 million in a bank account in 1912. And I don’t know where he went to school.
I don’t know what he learned. But people in Louisiana trusted him. And he used the money
that slaves and ex-slaves managed to help fight the fight in
Louisiana. We did not take much time on Angela Davis. Not that she wasn’t right but we were
trying to always chart the future. The victims will come along. And Ferguson will come along.
But if you change the focus — put the focus on Ferguson when the whole world needs our
leadership, see, then we’re playing ourselves cheap.
I just think that the things that we have done in shaping America have shaped the world.
You can correct me if I’m wrong but right now the discussions of monetary
manipulation in the trade agreements means that the Americans don’t have much power.
The Europeans are still running the global economy. And we’re getting screwed. I was
sitting in the Congress where you sit, in the Banking Committee, in 1973 when Nixon
came and ended the stability of the global economic order. And nobody ever discussed
it anymore. I never forgot it. But America ran the world from 1944 to 1974. Everybody’s
currency was tied to the dollar and the dollar was tied to gold. And the whole world — whole
world was growing from 6% to 10%. Now with the Europeans taking over the economy — Europe
is in a desperate recession. They are not growing. And the Republicans
want to have a balanced budget like Germany. And German business is coming to Atlanta.
See, because it ain’t working over there. We have separated ourselves — we have almost
seceded from the U.S. economy in Atlanta. And we’re part of the global economy. All
I’m saying is we can run the global economy. I don’t want us to get bogged down in the
problems we have. One of the things I learned from my old folks was
please don’t move these mountains. Just give me the strength to climb. Don’t take away
the stumbling blocks. Just lead us on. We have a special role here and a special vision.
And we shouldn’t — we shouldn’t limit ourselves to what white folks are still saying because
buy and large even the better ones are still thinking of the world in terms of 19th Century
European economics. Every now and then you get somebody like Elizabeth Warren that breaks
out. And you get — there are few. But for the most part, we’re letting the French and
the IMF run the economy. And they don’t know what they’re doing. Because it’s not working
for anybody but them. And it’s not even working that good for them. That’s why the rich are
getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. That’s not an accident. Not because we’re
dumb. It’s because somebody has rigged the game. And I’m trying to unrig the game. And
that’s all we need to do that. We do not need to play this game. We need to make it work
like we’re all God’s children. [Applause] Finally, there’s an argument in Mandela’s
last book saying where he and Ahmed Kathrada are talking about a multiracial society. Mandela
says, no, that will never work. There are too many divisions, too many cults. He says
we have to have a non-racial society. You know, I took issue with that at first. And
then I realized, that’s true. Ultimately we have to see ourselves as spiritual beings
who are united in one cause to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick. [Applause]
It doesn’t matter what color they are, where they came from, or what their problems are.
We’re here to set people free.>>And now for the benediction, Ryan Mack. Ryan?>>I
can leave you with a positive note on this. It sort of wraps up Ambassador Young’s desire
for big thinking, progressive thinking, focusing on solutions and bringing us all together.
Your and my conversation about don’t forget the micro. Frankly, going back to the Freedman’s
Bank, it was — it inspired a woman, Maggie Walker to create a bank after the Freedman’s
Bank that survived to 2009. And even when Dr. King was focusing on money, he didn’t
get there by himself. It was Marian Edelman, defense fund, whispering into his ear saying
the move was about money. Even when Dr. King got stormed, her niece, Debbie Wright, CEO
of the federal bank in Harlem until last year which was one of the largest black banks in
America. So even when you fall, sometimes you fall forward. So women have this wonderful,
untapped, untold story in this work of civil rights. I think the best is yet to come. I
think it’s going to be the decade of the women. That’s another conversation. [Applause]
I’m going to say today, sometimes these conversations get — a lot of words. Ph.D.s are good Ph-dos
are better. Earlier today, the CEO of a bank about to
be $70 he committed in a private lunch today pledged to open 100 HOPE Inside locations
in Los Angeles alone. [Applause] So I think that’s the best way to sort of
give life to the Freedman’s Bank mission. We already have 100 locations we’ve opened
this year. We’re going to open — I think we’re going to have pledges — I don’t want
to get too — people think I’m crazy if I say the numbers in my head. Let’s say conservatively,
300 HOPE Inside location places this year alone making this the Starbucks of financial
inclusion. But you’ve got to be crazy to think big thoughts like this. You really have to
be a little off to say the stuff that he and I, all of us, are saying. But only crazy people
change the world.>>But it’s also built. Back of Chapter 2.>>You know your stuff.
I said on Twitter Roland is brilliant. Isn’t he fantastic?>>Yes.
[Applause]>>I’m a preacher. You got to tell me what the Chapter 2 is?>>Write the vision
down, make a plan, wait on him to let you know where to go.>>Amen.
[Applause]>>[Inaudible]>>All right. With that, thank you for the panel today. Wasn’t
it a great panel? [Cheers and Applause] We have another whole program. You can feel free
–>>Just tell us to go. He don’t know how to say it. Can you get off the stage? You
ain’t got to go home but you got to get off the stage.>>Thank you all.>>Thank you
so much.>> We still have a program. No one leave just yet. The program goes on. We are
still here another 30 minutes. We have a couple of announcements we wanted to make. First
of all, I wanted to see, is there a Patricia Mitchell in the house? Is she here? Industrial
Bank. Is she here? I just wanted to give kudos and congratulate for 80 years, the largest
black-owned bank in the city
of DC, Industrial Bank. [Applause] I thought Patricia was here. She’s Executive Vice President,
the sister. They just celebrated their 80th year. Wanted to congratulate them. Now, I
think it’s always good to know where the rubber meets the road. In the hope and — what exactly
is the HOPE Inside? Well, it’s essentially one of those things that I get to see every
day. That’s where we work at the Operation HOPE. And every single day we see HOPE inside.
We have a lot of the HOPE staff that’s back right now. We have Deon and Michelle and Latera,
Omari, Cedric, Cynthia, Tyresa, all doing fabulous work every single day empowering
youth and adults. I’ve seen individuals with 500 credit scores come in and months later
they have a 750 FICO score. I’ve seen individuals with nothing more than a dream to want to
purchase a home, walk in, and months later the next thing you know
they have a brand new house and signed a mortgage for a new home. And we have our small business
program under Cynthia Harrison where tonight — I wanted to make an announcement that I’m
very proud of these individuals what they’ve been able to do. We recently had a program
where essentially it’s like a shark tank program. There were hundreds of applicants from all
through DC. Out of all the hundreds of applicants, they weeded them down to 15 applicants. And
of the 10 finalists, six were operation HOPE graduates of our program. [Cheers and Applause]
Then to go even further, the individual who presented earlier today, Anthony McFarland,
the two, number one and two, were Operation HOPE graduates. So just last week Anthony
McFarland won a $10,000 grant to start or continue to start his new business. The second
grant he received from — again from our program. And this evening we have the number two person.
I wanted to give them some recognition to have them come up and say a few words about
their experience. Please feel free to come up and just talk, Care Essence Massage Therapy
Spa. They’ve been doing their thing. Thank you so much.
Nicole Ruffin and Lou Ruffin. Husband and wife. A lot of times people talking about
can I get a job. These folks are learning how to create their own job.
I wanted to get a few words from them as well.>>Nicole Ruffin: Thank you so much. My name
is Nicole Ruffin. Myself and my husband Lou Ruffin are the CEOs of Care Essence Massage
Therapy Spa. The businessis nine years old. It started as a home-based business. In my
home. And a mobile business. Then we moved into Greenbelt, Maryland in 2011. We provide
massage, facials, acupuncture and body wraps. What I discovered is before massage therapy,
I was in healthcare. I graduated from HBCU, got a degree in chemistry, and worked in Washington
Hospital Center for 20 years. So I know a lot about being a care provider. But last
year I became a care provider for my husband who had two
brain surgeries. So I had to spend the time away from the business and direct my attention
to my home. And as a small business — when I was away from the business, the business
started — it only grew — received revenue when I was focusing on the business. So I
decided after he recovered, I found out about the Operation HOPE. I took the entrepreneurship
training course. And my instructor –I don’t see her in here, Cynthia Harrison — taught
us about building the business plan, taught us about marketing, research, and our financials
and budgeting, things like that which was very helpful because it allowed me to create
a new platform and a new way to generate more revenue. So I am so thankful for the opportunity
that Operation HOPE has given me. I can do whatever Cynthia Harrison tells me to do.
Everything she recommends, I just follow her. So when we did the pitch, that was my first
experience, was doing the pitch, and it allowed me to revamp my
niche which was — I’m grateful for the experience that I have with having the office but with
this program I have been given the market or niche approach which is that we — Care
Essence is — we are the caregivers for caregivers. So what we’re looking to do within the next
six or seven months — we started already. We’re starting with the clients that we have.
We’re going to go into the healthcare environment, hospitals, nursing homes, and
outpatient facilities to offer chair massage services to the staff so that we can educate
them on how to take care of themselves. So I just want to say thank you.
Thank you so much. Thank you.>>Ryan Mack: Again, just briefly. What we have left for
the day is we have a very quick presentation and then we will have another announcement
by our chairman. And then after that we’ll get some cocktails. I know we’ve held you
all in here for a decent amount of time. I had a schedule here but, you know. Andrew
Young, you know what I’m saying?>>[Laughter]>>Ryan Mack: What are you going to do, right?
If there’s anybody else that we can hold over a long time for, that right there, that’s
history in the making. Right? My God. That’s history today. This is like a moment of history.
It was blowing my mind just listening to him speak. Without further ado, I want to present
a brother, Damani Davis, an archivist from the National Archives Research Services Division
in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of Coppin State University in Baltimore, Maryland, received
his MA in history at the Ohio State University. He is an expert in and has lectured in national,
regional, and local conferences on African-American history and genealogy. Pleads welcome for
a special historical presentation on the Freedman’s Bank,
National Archives Archivist Mr. Damani Davis. [Applause]>>Damani Davis: Good evening. Welcome
to the National Archives. We here at the National Archives just wanted to give you a brief presentation
on some of the Freedman’s Bank records because most people are not familiar with the records.
Here at the National Archives I guess the largest amount of patrons that we have coming
here now are family historians and genealogical researchers. Because due to some of the recent
television programs such as “African-American Lives,” “Who Do You Think You Are?” and so
forth, over the past 10 years the interest in genealogical research has really skyrocketed
amongst African-Americans. So just so you can have an idea of the type of information
you can find within some of these records. If you have ancestors who may have opened
accounts in the Freedman’s Bank or made deposits, potentially you could
find information on these ancestors or ancestors that you didn’t know about. Because oftentimes
in these records they will give information on family members. For genealogical purposes,
especially as it pertains to African-Americans. Or sometimes they will even give the names
of their former slave owners. Now, I know some of you may not be interested in knowing
the names of the persons who are in your family but if you’re the descendant of enslaved persons,
or from a — but from a genealogical perspective, information on the slave-
holding family is the most important type of information you’re going to get. Because
it’s within the records of the slave-holding family that you’re going to
get the records on your ancestors. So just to — I’m not going to go too long into this.
I know most of us are trying to get out before the snowstorm or ice storm or whatever comes
through. I know some of you have seen this photograph of the actual building, of the
Freedman’s Bank as it existed. Today 150 years ago March 3, 1865, the Freedman’s Bank was
officially signed into law by President Lincoln. It was conceived initially by an abolitionist,
congressionalist, minister named John W. Alfred who was originally from New England. During
General Sherman’s march through Georgia, John Alford accompanied the troops as a chaplain
serving the soldiers. And as Sherman marched through Georgia — I mean, most of us are
familiar with Sherman’s special field order number 15 which after seeing the conditions
of the recently free population, he felt that since these human beings had tilled this soil,
along the coast of the Carolinas and Florida, he felt that they legitimately deserved ownership
of that land, that they had lived on for generations and that they had, you
know, toiled. So special order number 15 generated the concept of 40 acres and the mule. As you
know, after President Lincoln was assassinated and – and Andrew Young — sorry.>>[Laughter]
>>Damani Davis: President Andrew Johnson, basically a lot of these initiatives were
overturned by Andrew Johnson. So he rescinded special order number 15. Since the 40 acres
and the mule was no longer a promise, that was a severe disappointment to many of these
recently freed Afro-Americans because they felt they deserved the lands. But they had
to move on. As they moved into the position of wage laborers,
many of them had no experience with any type of financial
institution or handling money at all. So John W. Alford, he took up where special order
number 15 kind of left off. There had already been some prior financial institutions established
by Union troops. Because, of course, we had the U.S. Colored Troops. The U.S. Colored
Troops were making wages while many of them had nowhere or no type of institution in which
they could deposit or save their money. So John W. Alford met with philanthropists in
New York, explained the problem to these men, and they felt that it was a worthy cause,
a worthy enterprise. The Freedman’s Bank took some of the ideas from some of the soldiers
— some of the offices in the Union troops and established it on a larger basis. Unfortunately,
as we’ve already touched upon, the Freedman’s Bank eventually fell. Initially the Freedman’s
Bank was to serve as a simple savings bank. It was established on very secure principles.
The deposits would be invested in only secure government bonds, treasury notes and
so forth. But in 1870 the charter, the original charter, signed by Congress, was changed.
And from that point it opened the door to speculation, loans, and so forth. And along
with the recession of 1873, it led to the collapse of the bank. This collapse was devastating
to the African-Americans, the recently freed population that was investing all of their
money into the bank. Their hope was that despite the fact that they didn’t get the land, they
hoped to be able to save their little wages in order to buy some land to buy homes. Speaking
of the severe blow, this trauma that they went through due to the closure of the Freedman’s
Bank, my former colleague here recently retired, phrases it this way. The closure of the Freedman’s
Bank devastated the African-American community. An idea that began as a well-meaning experiment
in philanthropy had turned into an economic nightmare for tons of thousands of African-Americans
who had entrusted their hard-earned money to the bank. Contrary to what many of its
depositors were led to believe, the bank’s assets were not protected by the federal government.
Perhaps more far reaching than the immediate loss of their tiny deposits was the deadening
effect the bank’s closure had on many of the depositors’ hopes and dreams of a brighter
future. The banks’ demise left bitter feelings of betrayal, abandonment, and
distrust of the American banking system. That will remain in the African-American community
for many years. While half of the depositors eventually received
about 3/5 of the value of their accounts, others received nothing.
Some depositors and their descendants spent more than 30 years petitioning Congress for
reimbursement of their losses. To get more information on the history of the Freedman’s
Bank for those who are not well familiar with it, we have a great article in the National
Archives quarterly journal. You can go online, archives.gov, and read this particular article
by Reginald Washington that goes into a little more detail of the Freedman’s Bank.
Also, for those who are interested in the Senate investigations of Freedman’s Bank,
this is the citation of one of them from 1879. It’s printed in the congressional series that
you can also go online and find this information and read the actual investigation. There were
actually two investigations: one by a Senate committee, another by the House committee.
Frederick Douglass actually testified in one of these investigations. Off-hand, I can’t
remember which one it was. Let’s go into the records. The Freedman’s Bank, as far as the
records we have, we have surviving records from 29 banks. And the records that we have,
of course, are records of the depositors into the bank. At its peak, the bank operated
37 branches in 17 states including the District of Columbia, making it one of the first multi-state
banks in the nation. Not all of these banks were in the historical South or the former
confederate states. New York had a branch, Philadelphia had one, some of the cities in
the border state — there was a bank in Baltimore. And, of course, the headquarters was here
in Washington. What kind of information can you find in these
records? You can find the name of the depositors, the account
number, ages, complexions and physical descriptions, date of application, place of birth, place
where raised, occupations, information on spouses, children, names of parents and siblings
and other remarks. Not all of these accounts were opened by individuals. Some were actually
opened by institutions such as churches. An entire church would have members who would
make a collective deposit on the behalf of the church. So sometimes you could find information
on some of the older black churches. For those who are interested in
some of the more detailed administrative records, this is just some of the microfilm publications
that we have that you can research. Particularly M874 if you’re interested in some of the records
of the Board of Trustees and so forth. You can do that. Let’s go on to some examples.
This individual here is Captain O.S.B. Wall, the first African-American commissioned captain
in the regular Army during the Civil Wa. And he had several accounts in the Freedman’s
Bank. This is an example of what the typical deposit record — this is how it appears.
It gives some real basc information on the person. For instance, it gives his physical
description: describes him as 5’10” in height, mulatto complexion; gives the names of his
children: Edward, Steven, Sally, Bell; his place of
birth, Richmond county, North Carolina. His place of residence at this particular time
when he opened the account was Oberlin in Lorain County, Ohio; went to school there.
His occupation is listed as an employment agent for the Freedmen’s Bureau, which is
another source of records that are very useful here at the National Archives for those who
are trying to trace African-American ancestors. John Wesley Cromwell. He was a historian — excuse
me, journalist, educator, lawyer, and former slave who was born in Portsmouth, Virginia.
In 1851 his family purchased their own freedom and moved to Philadelphia. Later after the
Civil War, John Wesley Cromwell moved to Washington, D.C. He attended Howard Law School and established
a black newspaper here in Washington. Here’s his particular Freedman’s Bank account.
It gives the date that he opened the account; his place of birth,
Portsmuth, Virginia; place where raised, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At this time his place of residence
he gives Howard University. His age is 25. His occupation is listed as teacher. Gives
the name of his father, Wilis H. Cromwell and his mother who is deceased. It also gives
the names of his siblings: Levi, Willis, Armstead, Martha Anne and Esther Nash. Just to give
an example of when you’re doing research, historical research or genealogical research,
oftentimes it’s common for names to be misspelled or there to be discrepancies in the information.
I’ll just use this particular Freedman’s Bank record as an example because in each one of
the records that we have on him, there’s a different variation on the spelling of his
name. Here we have Ruben. This account is from 1867. For genealogical purposes, some
real good information that he gives is the name of his former master from when he was
enslaved. His master’s name was given. His mistress would be the master’s wife, Betsy.
Gives his physical description: 5’4″, light brown complexion; name of his child, Benjamin.
His place of birth was King William County, Virginia.
And his current place of residence is listed as 18th Street between L and M in Washington,
DC. A later Freedman’s Bank account that he had is from 1873. His age is listed as 62,
gives his complexion is dark;his place of residence is the same; occupation, laborer.
This also gives the name of his wife, Eliza, which wasn’t given in the first bank account.
His
name is spelled differently. Here in the National Archives we also have Freedman’s Bank –I
mean, Freedmen’s Bureau records. These records are
not as easy to research as the Freedman’s Bank because fortunately the Freedman’s Bank
records have been digitized so you can go online on sites such as ancestry, family search
and so forth. Just type the name of your ancestor in the particular state and hopefully if they
open a Freedman’s Bank account it will come up.
We advised researchers to not rely solely on databases because of any information was
entered wrong. If they entered the name of the ancestor wrong, nothing
will come up if you put the name in. So always go to the original record just to be sure
if you suspect that you may have had an ancestor who opened an account.
But the Freedmen’s Bureau records, because they’re so voluminous, there’s no comprehensive
name or subject index for the Freedmen’s Bureau records. But the information in these records
are very valuable. Here we have a record from the Freedmen’s Bureau records from here in
the Washington, D.C. It’s the same couple. It
gives her maiden name. Basically what the Freedmen’s Bureau was doing was legalizing
the marriages of formerly enslaved persons because under slavery there was no legal recognition
of their marriages. Within these records you can find individuals who considered themselves
married for 50 years, 60 years, people with grandchildren and so forth. But all of them
have gone to the Freedmen’s Bureau to get their marriages legally recognized for the
first time and get official marriage certificates because within slavery they only had a slave
marriage where they jumped the broom. But at any time
they could be sold away because there was no — they could be sold away from each other.
A person could be sold away from their spouse or their children because there was no legal
recognition of family bonds. And that’s something that is very common in some of the records
that we have. And just another variation of the name. This is a census record, which is
another commonly used Federal Record that we have at the National Archives that people
use for genealogical research. Just confirming that the family is right here in Washington,
D.C. but also showing how when you do research in Federal Records, don’t view any of these
records in isolation. You can go to the Freedmen’s Bureau records but always try to connect it
with other records, other Federal records, that we have within the National Archives
but even then the Federal records are only one component. You also need
go to the local level, state level, to find records that may be in church records, church
archives, local state archives and so forth. Here’s another interesting person from right
here in Washington, D.C. This is an example of someone making — opening a Freedman’s
Bank account on behalf of a church. Alfred Pope was a leading member of the Washington,
D.C. black community at the turn of the previous century, 1800s going into the 1900s. But he’s
making an account on behalf of Mount Zion Church in Georgetown and it has the name of
other members of the Banking Committee of that particular church. A later
account gives more similar information; residence Georgetown, gives the name of his wife and
so forth. Here’s the wife, separate account she opened.
It gives information where she’s living at the time, information on
the children and so forth. Here is another record that once you begin researching one
type of record, it can eventually lead to other records. Here’s Alfred Pope’s affidavit
of freedom which he received in Washington, D.C. before the Emancipation Proclamation
because Washington, D.C. received liberation of slaves in April 1862, prior to the Emancipation
Proclamation. It just gives some background information on this individual.
The barer, Alfred Pope, the colored man, who will hand you this note of the late John Carter
of this town. And by Colonel Carter’s will after Alfred was set
free and is now with my consent as executor in enjoyment of his freedom. Alfred caused
this necessary certificate of freedom to be entered on record in your office and had in
his possession a certified copy. But about a week ago his dwelling or house took fire
in the night and it was destroyed with the furniture. So just showing how different types
of records can be found. And once you investigate one record it can lead to clues on information
you can find in another record. Here’s Alfred Pope and Hannah Cole’s marriage record which
confirms the information that was within the Freedman’s Bank records, showing that they
were married. And here’s their marriage being legalized after slavery. Here’s the family
in a census. And another census. And the rest of these records basically give the same type
of information. It’s not going into deep detail. Just giving the names of families, occupations,
or for genealogical purposes. When you’re doing that type of research, you’re approaching
it from the standpoint of a private investigator. So any information you get, any tidbit of
information, clues is always valuable because it can lead to other records and creates a
snowball effect where the more little pieces of information you get, names, places, dates,
and so forth, it can help you gather more information. Basically these records just
show how you can do that. And show the value. Before I close I want to show something else
you can find in the Freedman’s Bank that kind of reveals the tragic history. Many of these
records, especially when you look at states such as Mississippi, Louisiana, and so forth,
many of these individuals were borne in places such as Richmond, Virginia, this region we’re
in, Chesapeake Region, Maryland, and Virginia. Multitudes of people, when you look at the
— certain places in Louisiana, over and over again on almost every road you’re finding
people who were born. When they asked for their place of birth, they’re saying Eastern
Shore of Maryland, Frederick, Baltimore Maryland, Washington, D.C., Prince George’s County.
What that represents is the internal or the domestic slave trade that occurred after 1808.
After 1808 the transatlantic slave trade was ended. So in this particular region, which
was formerly based on the cultivation of tobacco, tobacco cultivation was no longer as lucrative
as it once was but this was the oldest area of what was considered the South. So they
considered themselves to have a surplus slave population. This was where the largest of
mountain slaves were. Virginia even at the end of the Civil
War had the largest black population. But what occurred during that period is many of
the slave holders in this region who no longer needed that surplus labor, they began to sell
that surplus enslaved labor to the new states of the expanding cotton belt. That expanded
— initially they would sell them down to Georgia. So you would hear Frederick Douglass
in his autobiography talking about the fear they had of being sold down to Georgia. Because
that was, you know, initially when Georgia and South Carolina were
being established, many of them were being sold there. But it was exacerbated as slavery
began to spread from Georgia into Mississippi — Mississippi, Louisiana, and so forth. So
in all of these records you see evidence of that.
These two individuals born in Richmond, Richmond, Virginia, asked about family members. It gives
the name, names of family members. Sometimes they say as far as they know their parents
are dead. Sometimes they say they don’t know. They don’t know where the status of their
parents or siblings and so forth. A few more examples. This person to the left says he
was born in Maryland. He was brought up or raised in the City of Washington but his residence
now is Mississippi. He was a — he has information on his wife and children: Julia, Anne,
and so forth. When asked about his father, he says he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know the
status of his father. And ditto on his mother. So essentially sold away.
Another person to your right is another person from Washington, D.C. who was raised in Washington,
D.C. but is now in Mississippi. Again indicating that internal slave trade that occurred, Northern
Eastern Shore, Prince George’s County, Maryland. Frederick, Virginia, State of Virginia, Now
in Mississippi. So essentially most of the individuals that we have here are family historians
and genealogists. We also have historians who come here who examine these records in
order glean some of this information to try to reconstruct and build some type of idea
or knowledge of what was occurring at that time and documenting it with actual records.
Can’t go any longer. Before we close, I would just like to open the floor up for questions.
Yes?>>[Inaudible]>>Damani Davis: We don’t have an actual genealogy website. On archives.gov
we have a page on there that gives information on all events that we have within the National
Archives. So throughout every week we have different presentations such as a “Know Your
Records” program that talks about and examines different records. Every April we have a Virtual
Genealogy Fair. It is — it used to be a big fair that we had outside in front of the building.
It’s now virtual meaning you could go online and watch any of the presenters. And they
speak upon all different types of topics relating to genealogy. Even after the presentations
oftentimes they still are held on YouTube. You can go on YouTube and watch them .>>Time
for one more.>>[Inaudible]>>Damani Davis: It depends
on the particular record. Records that haven’t been digitized — the majority of the records
haven’t been digitized because there are just too many of these various records. Like the
Freedman’s Bureau — well, some of them have been digitized but the majority of them haven’t.
Freedmen’s Bureau records are on microfilm. At this time that’s really the only way you
can research them, just going through the particular state where you think you had ancestors
narrowing it down to the particular county in the field office that had jurisdiction
over that county; just scrolling through the microfilm hoping you can find
something on your ancestors. At some point we hope these records can be digitized. Freedman’s
Bank records are digitized at this time. So you don’t have to go to microfilm for those.
You can go online. Also, anytime you’re in any National Archives facility you have free
access to all of these independent sites that have digitized the records. So if you don’t
have a subscription with ancestry.com or Heritage Quest, I think family search is available
to anyone without subscription. But definitely ancestry — anytime you’re within any of our
facilities, you have free access to it on our public access
computers. You can just go on ancestry. If you wanted to research Freedman’s Bank, you
could just go on our computers and do all of the research you would like to do on those
particular records.>>[Question Inaudible]>>Most of it is there but, honestly, from
the feedback we’ve received from some customers, oftentimes our website is
defensively navigate. We have received complaints about that. But if you stay on there and just
play around with it, you can finally find what it is that you’re looking for.
>>[Laughter]>>[Inaudible]>>Damani Davis: For the most part, on the front page of the
website, they are kind of good now at having a list of all of the monthly — the upcoming
monthly events. So somewhat — you’ll get some information to point you in the direction.
If you don’t have everything you’re looking for,
you can just call. It has the numbers. Our specialists and Archivists can lead you from
that point.>>Thank you. [Applause]>>If you don’t know who you are when you
get up in the morning, by dinner-time someone will tell you. To have self-determination,
freedom, first and foremost, takes self-esteem and self-belief.>>My mother told me she
loved me. I never had a self-esteem problem. I always thought I had confidence in myself
and knew who I was, at least knew I was somebody.If I didn’t know who I was totally, I knew I
was on track to be somebody.>>When I talk about role models, talking about my father.
I knew through my dad that I could do anything I wanted to do
because I saw him do it. So I got a sense of yes I can from my father. Sometimes it
takes a stranger to show you what’s right in front of you. So when I was 9 years old,
in my classroom, caught a course. He told me he was a banker. [Inaudible]>> Ryan Mack:
Ladies and gentlemen, my friend, my chairman,my boss, and my mentor John Hope Bryant. [Applause]>> My mother always said you never want to be the old guy in the club. So before you kick me out, we’re
going to leave. It’s been a good day. [Applause] I want to thank C-Span for covering this historic
acknowledgment of the Freedman’s Bank on the 150th Anniversary. I
want to thank Roland Martin’s show for covering the 150th Anniversary of the Freedman’s Bank.
I want to thank the National Archives. If you’ve never been here, it must hit you walking
in here. This is a gorgeous, amazing, untapped reservoir of America. I don’t know if you
know this, but every precious jewel of America’s history is in this place: the Constitution,
the original; the Bill of Rights, the original; the Emancipation Proclamation, the original.
Everything that you hold dear that articulates and explains the spirit of this country is
in this building. And it is yours. It’s a public asset. And I’m just honored that they
felt it worthy to dedicate a day for this almost lost piece of history. So in some ways
you have played a part in history today. Because you’ve helped to redeem the soul of the Freedman’s
Bank which up until now was nothing more than a plaque on the outside of the building of
treasury extension. Nothing more than a plaque. People who work in the building at Treasury
Annex did not know it was the Freedman’s Bank building, walked
by the plaque every day and never had noticed it. It takes somebody to say, stop! Because
in DC the urgent crowds out the important. It takes somebody to stop and say, no, this
is relevant and it’s real and it’s meaningful. And even though you may not be getting paid
from it today, even though you may not be getting an advancement from it today, where
would you be if this had not happened yesterday? We all owe a debt. I owe a debt to that man,
Ambassador Andrew Young. That is the closest thing we have to Nelson Mandela in the United
States of America. I listen and I learn something from him every time he talks. I don’t know
if you notice, but he irritates me intentionally.>>[Laughter]>>John Hope Bryant: He’s always
pushing me, trying to make me better. I appreciate that. I want to acknowledge Ted Beck from
the Council for Young Americans. Any council members here? Some friends from the FDIC are
here, all the heroes and sheroes of the civil rights movement. Thank you for being here.
Before we wrapped up, sort of end on a high note, to take a few questions if you have
them on anything that’s on your mind. Yes, sir?>>[Question Inaudible]>>John Hope
Bryant: He’ll take it, too. Did everybody hear that question? So I can walk and talk.
I think — is it ok for us to do a little Q&A? I don’t want to wear you out. I think
half of poverty — first of all, poverty has nothing to do with money. [Applause] Nothing.
Yeah. Now, that’s a radical statement. Because for 50 years all the experts have been telling
us that support of about money. Now, the government has a responsibility, and they’re right, to
articulate what’s sustains poverty. What is the level in which you can function financially?
I’m talking about what’s going to hold you back. Whether you’re
here, Zimbabwe, Egypt, or South Africa, or Detroit, what’s going to hold you back? I
think that that is half lack of confidence in yourself and low self-esteem.
If you don’t know who you are at 9:00 in the morning, by dinnertime somebody will tell
you. I’ll say something pretty radical now. As if everything else I hadn’t said was radical.
I think because of 200 years of slavery, 100 years of Jim Crow that ended basically in
1960, in our lifetime, I think that 70% of black Americans are clinically undiagnosed
depressed. It makes perfect sense. And it also explains why we respond to certain things
— it explains the anger, the frustration, the fact that we’ve given up hope in many
ways, the fact that we’re not skeptical, we’re cynical, we see the glass as half full, not
half empty. It explains so much, why we don’t vote on a regular basis. It explains a lot.
And once we can address that, be honest about that — by the way, this graph I mentioned,
this applies to everybody. This is not a black doctrine. This
is a doctrine. If you have low self-esteem and lack of belief in yourself,
that’s poverty. If you have crappy role models and a crappy environment and it is going to
lead to no hope and a sense of opportunity that applies to white rural poverty, everybody.
All I’m saying is, when white folks have a headache, black folks have pneumonia. But
we’re all sick. So how do we address that? How do you arrest that?
Well, we can talk about families all day but that’s not going to solve it. We know that
families — the crumbling family is a crisis. The b-minus business compact,
it’s my attempt to replicate what happened in my family. My mother told me she loved
me every day of my life. I have no self-esteem problem. My dad has his own business. I’m
not a genius. I’m role modeling. Why am I a businessman? My daddy was. Why wear a suit?
You saw a black man wearing a suit and said I can do
that. Somebody taught me financial literacy. He was a banker. Happened to be white. Didn’t
matter. He was green as far as I was concerned. Currency. So whether you’re white, black,
red, brown, yellow, we say the real color is green. So he was a banker. I said, “What
do you do for a living and how did you get rich legally?” And I was serious. Nobody in
my neighborhood wore suits. He said, “I’m a banker, and I finance entrepreneurs.” As
God as my witness I said, “I don’t know what an entrepreneur is but I want to be one.”
And I started my first business the next year, the neighborhood candy house. My point is
that triangle, the love, the role modeling, and the tools that’s left brain, right brain,
and action. What we tend to do is just do the left brain. And what I tell my wealthy
friends is, if poverty was rational, poor people wouldn’t be poor. Poverty is highly
irrational. So you’ve got to click to the right brain which is why I say you’ve got
to connect education with aspiration. That’s why the HOPE b-minus business compact, $41.60
a month is something everybody can do. You don’t have to wait for the resident, the governor,
the mayor. You don’t need legislation to pass. Everybody can give some young person a transformational
experience where backpacks connects to briefcases and schoolhouse connects to office buildings.
That kid can’t relate to that office building. They don’t know what’s in it. Why do our kids
want to be rap stars, athletes and drug dealers? They’re not dumb. They’re brilliant. They’re
modeling what they see. So my vision is to give them something different to see. A six-week
internship I think is transformation. The endorphins will kick in the right side of
that kid’s head. They will start to dream about — and then in relationships. Unless
people working in the company, or whatever, has blue ink running through their veins versus
blood, they’re going to say in six weeks, this kid, you know, you’re pretty bright;
why don’t you stick around a little while. They did this in Taiwan. It was unpaid internships.
They didn’t have any money in Taiwan for college students. 70% of the unpaid interns were hired
into jobs. So I think you can transform an entire generation. You don’t need institutions
to do it. Everybody can do $41.06 a month which is $500 a year. We’re going to do this
nationwide. I’m going to pick on CEOs to try to get some scale. But I think you can say
I’m going do this in my neighborhood. It doesn’t have to go through Operation HOPE. You can
steal my software and do it, Opensource software. I just think we need — it’s time for a new
movement.>>[Question Inaudible]>>John Hope Bryant: We would don’t have time for
a story.>>[Question Inaudible]>>John Hope Bryant: Wow. [Cheers and Applause]
>>John Hope Bryant: You want the mic? My God.
>>[Question Inaudible] [Applause]>>John Hope Bryant: You have made the case — I’m
going to start getting t-shirts made. On the front of the t shirts it
will say, Quincy Jones says it takes 20 years to change the culture. That’s going to be
small letters; big letters, in the last 20 years we’ve made dumb sexy. We’ve dumbed down
and celebrated it. The back of the t-shirt will say we got to make smart sexy again.
You’re making smart sexy. [Applause] There’s no reason why – because it happened. There
were generations where this was the uniform — by the way, I keep talking about black
America. I mean everybody. But, of course, this is the 150th Anniversary of the Freedman’s
Bank. So please don’t think that I’m just having a black conversation.
But in the black community, a brilliant treatise on the Freedman’s Bank if you don’t know who
this lady is, she is at the Treasury Department, she is a genius and wrote a brilliant treatise
that hopefully she gets to everybody. I am framing my copy. It taught me something.
The Freedman’s Bank story is a wonderful story. If you look at that whole era, you saw black
people in suits, suits, ties. That was the uniform. No different
than those raggedy pants down to your knees are the uniform today. There’s nothing wrong
with our kids. We just been hijacked by culture. There’s nothing wrong with our kids. All we’re
doing is what we’ve done. So we’ve been hijacked by thug culture. But we can go back. That’s
why when I go into a school, I don’t dumb down, dress down, or talk down. I come suited
and booted, just like this. So I’m going to go back to you for a minute.
I was telling Roland Martin, I went to a school in Oakland, I want to talk to the worst schools
in America. And kids were throwing stuff. I walked, 600 kids talk at the same time.
The principal was trying to calm down, said please
stop. I walked to the middle of the auditorium and just stood there like this. You know what
happened? Completely quiet. Kids not dumb. I knew I had about 45 seconds. So I found
what I knew was the toughest dude in the auditorium. You knew how he was dressed. I don’t want
to say. It hurts my heart to tell you how he was dressed. It was a uniform. White shirt,
raggedy pants, no laces. He’s sitting there. Can I
do it? Yo, man, what’s up? I said — say his name was Bobby. I said, “How old are you?”
“18.” “Right now you’re 45.” “No.” “In this example you’re 45. You now work for IBM or
Google, whatever you think is coolest. You make a lot of money. You do really well. You
have a daughter. Do you love your daughter?” “If I had a daughter, I’d love my daughter.”
“Would you do anything for your daughter?” “Anything.” “Would you die?” “I would die
for my daughter.” “Great. There a knock on the door. You open the door. Open the door.
Yo, yo, yo, man, what’s up, what’s up? You know what I’m saying? He’s got tattoos on
his shoulder, gold toofths in his mouth, he hasn’t graduated, dropped out of
school, got a public record. You follow me? And Yo, yo, man, what’s up? I’m here because
I want to marry your daughter. I want your permission.” I said, “What do you say to him?”
This is TV. I can’t tell the you what he said. But you can imagine. He said, you better get
out of my yard, get off my porch. You’re not marrying my daughter, not now, not ever. The
whole audience did what? Applauded. Yeah, applauded. So I said, “Hey, Bobby, let me
ask you a question. That was a great answer. Why is it not good enough for your daughter
but it’s good enough for you?” He had never thought about it. He had never questioned
himself. But if I tried to shame him, if I tried to talk down to him, he would have cut
me — he would have turned the whole audience against me. I didn’t have a problem the rest
of the day because he was my protector. This is turn aroundable. We can solve these
problems. We’ve got to reimagine how we address and understand these young people are brilliant.
But these kids who want to be rap stars, athletes, drug dealers, the rap stars and legal entrepreneurs,
the guy who the gang leader is a frustrated union organizer and the guy running from police
could be Mario Andretti. He’s being paid to race a car. We’ve got to turn the negatives
into positives. Next question? I will make the answers crisper and shorter.
>>[Question Inaudible]>>John Hope Bryant: It’s a great question. The tipping point.
University of Illinois study proved that 5% of role models every community stabilizes
— not 80%, not 50%, not 20%, just 5% of role models. So you should go into your neighborhood
and — everybody in this here, make a mission in the next two years, get the companies in
your neighborhood, small businesses and large, to commit. Get 5% of those companies, in your
neighborhood, to bring internships into their companies. 5% and you’ll transform your whole
neighborhood. So 5% is doable. Right? It’s solvable. You can get your hand around it.
Just focus on what’s in fronts of you and understand that history never feels historic
when you’re in it. It just feels like another day. It takes 20 years to look back at a moment
and say that that was historic. See, that was quick?>>[Question Inaudible]
>>John Hope Bryant: The number one income stream for many of these countries including
Mexico and places like Nigeria — well, Nigeria has oil. It’s a huge income stream. It’s very
significant. Federal Reserve is doing something very positive around that which nobody knows
about that gives you cheap forms of transfer remittances even though we go to high-cost
version. The answer is no, though. Ambassador Young had the answer. The minute I get into
the money game, the minute I become part of the transaction, I lose my credibility. I
want to be the private banker of the poor. I don’t want to be the bank. Let ethical players
who can capture your attention and whom you think pass your sniff test, let those people
— not only do I not have a problem with capitalism, I am a capitalist. I believe that people should
benefit. I believe in enlightened self-interest. I think we just need honest ones. So I think
that you should want folks to prosper. When they prosper and do well, they create jobs.
Goldman Sachs was a guy named Goldman and a guy named Sachs. It was once a little small
business. Wal-Mart was a guy named Sam Walton with a pickup truck. Every big business was
once a small one. So I want responsible capitalists to succeed so that they can hire more people
at a living wage. My role is to be Switzerland with a purpose.
I’m neutral leaning towards justice. That’s why HOPE Inside is inside
of X, Y, Z locations, bank branches, etc., why we help you, prep you, train you, get
your credit score up, and then reintroduce you back to yourself to give you options that
you can choose which institution to do business with and you can decide who you want to nurture.
I just don’t think it’s my role to get in the middle of that transaction. You can create
a company and take the share yourself. Just make — make it quick to get a couple
more questions in. He’s about to give me the hook.
>>[Question Inaudible]>>I’m a DC resident. I participated in the mayor program last summer.
She was an intern with Banc One Washington. Basically what they was they taught the young
people –>>John Hope Bryant: A question?>>No, a
statement. Anyway. She participated. She went throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan
area teaching young people about financial literacy. And some
of the young people asked them questions. How do I save money? And why are you guys
giving — teaching us the significance of saving money when I need money because whatever
personal situation? You talked about poverty and you talked about the fact that you are
built into your environment. But as young people, they are inquisitive. And my daughter
came back at 17 years old to tell me what she learned and what she taught her
own peers. So I think in the Washington, D.C. area, I think they are giving back on financial
literacy. I think they are trying to teach the young people at young ages to save their
money, to be investment savvy.>>John Hope Bryant: What’s your question?>>I had no
question. I just wanted to make a statement.>>John Hope Bryant: It’s a great statement.
But we have — people have been sitting forever. And I am really sensitive about — it’s a
great statement.>>One more question.>>John Hope Bryant: We need a question. One last
question.>>[Question Inaudible]>>John Hope Bryant:
Yes. It’s free. And there’s a HOPE Inside at Suntrust Banks at 17th and — 917 — he’s
the CEO of the local market. Be all over him like a cheap suit. Get his phone number, cell
phone number, home number. Follow him home if
you have to. Yes, we do that. It’s all 100% free and unbiased. Ariel Management, which
happens to be an African-American-owned mutual fund company, I was told has an account you
can start for as little as $50 a month. So you don’t have to be a major investor to start
a mutual fund account. By the way, last widget for you. Young person makes $1,000 — for
all of you say I can’t do this. Kid makes $1,000 a month, part-time job, 17 years old.
Tell the kid 10% and save. Where? Regular index mutual fund. If the kid saves $100 from
age 17 to age 65, he’ll be worth $4.3 million. Don’t do anything else. Just do that. And
you’ll change that kid’s world. I hope you’ve enjoyed today. I love you. [Applause]>>Ryan
Mack: Just real quick statement before you go. There are no pictures upstairs in the
reception area. So, please, the tours are free. The National Archives has free tour
guides that will give you questions but no pictures. They will take your phone from you
if you take pictures. Upstairs. Follow the exhibits. There will be guides up there. Thank
you all so much.>>John Hope Bryant: Love you all.

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