On Sept. 23, the U.S. Department of Treasury hosted the Freedman’s Bank Forum in Washington, D.C.—bringing together public, private, and nonprofit leaders to discuss strategies to improve jobs, economic opportunity, financial inclusion, and shared prosperity for all communities.
The Freedman’s Bank was established to teach newly emancipated African Americans about money and help them build wealth by providing a safe place to save their new earnings. Today, it remains a significant part of American history, symbolizing the aspirations of African-Americans to become fully integrated in our nation’s economic life. The Forum highlighted the bank’s original mission: to promote economic integration and financial inclusion in the African American community.
John Hope Bryant, Chairman, Founder and CEO of Operation HOPE, and a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans, served as a catalyst to the historic renaming of the U.S. Treasury Annex to the Freedman’s Bank Building earlier this year, representing a commitment to ensuring more Americans have the financial tools and education to build a secure future.
The Freedman’s Bank Forum opened with a discussion between Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew and Derek T. Dingle, Senior Vice President & Chief Content Officer, Black Enterprise, on the future of financial inclusion.
The first panel, moderated by Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Raskin, explored “Building Jobs and Opportunities.” Panelists included Curley M. Dossman, Jr., Chairman of the Board, 100 Black Men of America, Inc., John W. Rogers, Jr., Chairman, CEO, & Chief Investment Officer, Ariel Investments, and Raj Chetty, Professor of Economics, Stanford University.
The second panel, moderated by Amias Gerety, Department of Treasury’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions, covered “Financial Inclusion and Shared Prosperity.” The dialogue examined possible federal, state, and local government solutions to economic inequality. Panelists included John Hope Bryant, the Honorable Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, and Kim Saunders, Founder, President and CEO, Eads Group; Board Member, National Bankers Association.
During the discussion, Bryant explained how financial stress affects communities and individuals and how to bridge the gap between Americans and financial institutions. “We’re sitting in a moment in history right now, but history never feels historic when you’re sitting in it – it just feels like another day.”
The forum concluded with inspirational remarks from the Honorable Andrew J. Young, Chair, Andrew J. Young Foundation, Civil Rights icon, and Global Spokesperson for Operation HOPE.