DETROIT (FOX 2) - Capping off the celebration of Black History, we're taking a look at one of the largest Black-owned banks in America, headquartered right here in Detroit.
First Independence Bank was founded in 1970, and is only one of a few left in the country. Its founding and preservation is a reflection of the economic state of Black America.
Out of the ashes of rioting during the 1967 tumult came the idea for a Black-owned bank in Detroit. First Independence Bank was founded in 1970.
Congressman Charles Diggs at the time organized a business development organization to strategically bolster housing, education and commercial banking for Blacks.
"We decided we had to do something to accelerate the rebuilding of Detroit," said one of the bank's chief organizers, Dr. Karl Gregory.
Berry Gordy Sr., the Motown music mogul's father, was one of the many big Black names and big-time Black investors in First Independence.
According to Black Enterprise, it's today the 8th largest African American owned bank in America.
Dimitrius Hutcherson, an executive VP Chief Adminstrative Officer and Chief Technology Officer for First Independence Bank, understands how that legacy can empower in a real way.
"We're making an even greater concerted effort to reach out to our community and let them know this is an African American owned bank and we want to serve you," he said.
And that's important.
The Brooking Institution reports the net worth of a typical white family is nearly 10 times greather than that of a Black family, reflecting the think tank says “the effects of accumulated inequality and discrimination … as well as differences in power and opportunity that can be traced back to this nation’s inception." Some metrics paint a bleak picture.
"I think what happened in that instance is that your traditional banks, your bigger banks, they realized there are very good margins that you can realize on making loans to folks in the community. They have the scale to go out and make transactions that we may not necessarily have the skill to compete," Hutcherson said.
Independence survived 50 years.
You can learn more about the bank's history in the video player above.