"At its height, the Freedman’s Savings Bank had seventy thousand depositors, all of whom were formerly enslaved. By placing all of the little they had in this new federal bank, these people were making the most powerful aspirational statement possible."John Hope Bryant - How the Poor Can Save Capitalism: Rebuilding the Path to the Middle Class
Signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln 151 years ago today, the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company, commonly known as the Freedman’s Savings Bank, was at the time a bold embodiment of hope for equality and inclusion in America’s mainstream. With the purpose of teaching former slaves the language of money and system of free enterprise, it represented the aspirations held by many for an effective transition into society. The work of Operation HOPE on the ground in cities across the nation and around the world through Project 5117 revolves around the same basic themes represented in this important institution: aspiration, education, opportunity, inclusion—a way forward. Our mission: make free enterprise accessible to all by providing people with the financial training and tools they need to realize their aspirations. Today and always, we celebrate the Freedman's Bank as the first symbol of the “silver rights” movement—the commitment to ensure the rights to financial literacy, access to capital, and equity of opportunity for the underserved, and dedicate our work at Operation HOPE to ensure inclusive prosperity for every American as the continuation of its legacy.