freedman's bank

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On March 3, 2015, Operation HOPE Forums and the Afro-American History Society of the National Archives (AAHS) will recognize the 150th anniversary of the Freedman’s Bank.

Established on March 3, 1865, by President Abraham Lincoln, the Bank was a landmark institution that had over $57 million in deposits and 70,000 depositors. The Bank’s records remain the single largest repository of lineage-linked African-American genealogy, containing upwards of 480,000 names.

The collapse of the Freedman’s Bank was a traumatic blow to the recently freed black population that was hoping to use their savings to purchase homes and land. Over 70,000 customers had opened accounts with deposits totaling approximately $57 million. Although the Freedman’s Bank had officially received its charter from Congress, Congress had not established any Federal responsibility for the solvency of the institution.

Members of AAHS will present Freedman’s Bank records at the National Archives, and there will be a moderated discussion with Operation HOPE Founder John Hope Bryant, Ambassador Andrew Young, ESSENCE Magazine Editor-In-Chief Vanessa DeLuca, and other dignitaries on the historical significance of the Bank and how its unfinished journey still resonates today in issues of poverty, income inequality, and race relations. A reception will follow.

The event is free and open to the public, register online.