Thursday, May 23, 2024

Black-owned OneUnited Bank to Hold Event to Encourage African Americans to ‘BankBlack’

teri williams - oneunited bank
Teri Williams, president and COO of OneUnited Bank

*It’s no secret – then maybe it is to some – that black people in America generate $1.2 trillion in annual spending power.  However, for various reasons, black dollars don’t resonate with power in the black community, like dollars resonate with authority in other communities where Asian, Jewish, and white people reside.  Additionally, for some reason, many black people have chosen to do their respective banking with white-owned institutions versus black-owned banking institutions.

Yet, Teri Williams, president and COO of OneUnited Bank, the nation’s largest black-owned bank, has a grand plan.  The plan is to proactively change how black people view and interface with black-owned banks.

On Saturday, July 23 from 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., OneUnited Bank, in partnership with #BlackMoneyMatters LA, will host a first-time ever account opening event at its Crenshaw branch, located at 3683 Crenshaw Blvd. in Los Angeles.  The event, where bank executives are asking people to open accounts with a $100 deposit, is expected to attract more than 1,000 individuals.  Congresswoman Maxine Waters will be the event’s keynote speaker.

Williams understands the ramifications for such a large number of people opening accounts at a black bank in any black community across the United States.

“It is critical for the black community to utilize our $1.2 trillion in annual spending power to create jobs and build wealth in our community,” said Williams.   “Put simply, if one million people opened a $100 savings account in a black-owned bank (across the United States), we would move $100 million!”

OneUnited is leading the way in efforts to show black people the benefits of banking black.  The bank is not only the country’s largest African American-owned bank, but is also the nation’s first black internet bank.  OneUnited, which is FDIC insured, has roots as a community black-owned bank in Boston.  After acquiring banks in Miami and Los Angeles, a unification under the umbrella OneUnited Bank was fortified.  Today, OneUnited has three branches in Boston, one in Miami, and one in Los Angeles and Compton respectively.  OneUnited has amassed $650 million in assets.

Williams has long felt that it was vitally important for black people to invest their money in black banks in order to grow black communities.  Even while working as an executive for Bank of America and American Express, she knew there was a missing link to her career and desire to help black people with financial solutions.

“Those were wonderful corporate experiences,” said Williams, a Brown University and Harvard Business School alum. “However, they were not touching our communities in ways that I thought were effective.  I saw gaps that needed to be filled.  I wanted to better educate our people in financial literacy, products and services, and to better serve and help our people overcome financial challenges.”

While there have been ongoing efforts by the nation’s two-dozen-plus black-owned banks – there used to be many more – to attract African American customers, there has been a clarion call of late for black people to strengthen their communities by moving their money to black banks.

Perhaps the amplification of this clarion call has been turned up a few notches since social media messages began circulating across the nation about banking black.  Perhaps Atlanta rapper and activist Killer Mike can be credited for helping to generate the flux of black entertainers that have moved their money from mainstream-owned banks to black-owned banks as of late.

oneunited bank - pretty girl

Killer Mike, who appeared recently as a town hall meeting guest aired on MTV and BET, called for black people to move their money to black banks, versus protesting violently over deadly police shootings of two black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Many entertainers adhered to Killer Mike suggestion, and the ensuing social media messages, inclusive of Beyoncé, Queen Latifah, Solange, Jessie Williams, Alicia Keys and many others.

While there may be other explanations for the wave of black money flowing into black banks, some people believe that African Americans are now beginning to realize the true power that can be generated when black money has a chance to circulate in black communities.

However, more work needs to be done in keeping the money in black communities long enough to be effective.

“Currently, only two percent of our $1.2 trillion in annual spending is actually spent in the black community,” said Williams.  “The lifespan of the black dollar in the black community is only six hours before it goes to other communities.  In the Asian American community, the lifespan of its dollars is 28 days.  The Jewish community is 19 days.”

Yet, Williams sees some progress, but knows there are still many challenges ahead.

“The biggest challenge is the need to increase the awareness in our community about the power of the black dollar,” Williams said.  “If we were to spend more of our $1.2 trillion in annual spending power within the black community, we would create a million jobs in our community.”

Williams added.

“It must be understood that by banking black, buying black and supporting other black businesses, we will build wealth in our community and create jobs in our community, and be better off,” she said.  “We have the power. The soil has been fertilized for the ‘bankblack’ challenge.”

For more information about OneUnited Bank and the July 23, 2016 event in Los Angeles, please visit or email [email protected].  Follow us on Facebook:; Twitter: @oneunited #BANKBLACK




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