Robinson and the Freedom National Bank

In 1964, Jackie took a new step into the business world. In partnership with Dunbar McLaurin, a businessman and financier, Jackie undertook to establish the Freedom National Bank, which would provide black entrepeneurs with the means to start their own businesses. Before the establishment of this bank, Jim Crow prejudices reigned in most banks. "When it came to mortgages to buy homes," said Jackie, "or business loans to enable blacks to become entrepeneurs, blacks were discriminated against. Yet they faithfully and religiously deposited their savings in white banks."

Jackie's vision of the bank was one of "a community enterprise which will in every way belong to the people it is to serve," and he presented it as such, offering the majority of the stock to members of the community. The board of directors had only a small portion of the stock.

When the bank finally opened, (late due to organizational difficulties), congratulations poured in from all sides, including from Hubert Humphrey, the vice-president elect.

Jackie was thrilled by the early success of the bank;"In my humble opinion, Freedom National is not just another local bank. It is symbolic of the determination of the Negro to become an integral part of the mainstream of our American economy."

When the Freedom National Bank eventually closed, it was the largest in New York that was owned and operated by blacks.

Picture taken during the opening of the Freedom National Bank.

 

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