On March 3, 1888, a groundbreaking event paved the way for black economic power and independence in America.
The Savings Bank of the Grand Fountain United Order of the True Reformers (GFUOTR) was chartered by the Virginia legislature on that historic day. The GFUOTR was the first black-owned finanical institution in American history. The bank opened its doors for business on April 3, 1889.
The True Reformers bank was an extension of a fraternal organization called the United Order of the True Reformers. The history of American black capitalism began regardless of the rampant racial segregation occurring in the nation after the Civil War and during the first three decades of the 20th century.
Economic empowerment was (and still is) a major conduit for the social equality of black people. There was a growing entrepreneurial spirit that showed in the creation of black banks, insurance companies, newspapers and other businesses that exclusively served black communities across America.
Black churches and fraternal organizations played a pivotal role in the inspiration of the black economic spirit, which aided in establishing empowerment.
At first, black churches did not possess businesses in the traditional sense. However, they did possess buildings and real estate. The churches represented the only major assets owned by blacks.
Due to the significant growth of Black-owned banks, there was also a growth of black businesses. Millions of dollars from products sold primarily to a black consumer market further enhanced the progress of black socio-economic independence.
This kind of financial cooperation was a key part of the process of establishing black commerce because white-owned financial institutions refused to grant credit and capital for black individuals and businesses. The establishment and maintenance of more black-owned institutions is still very much needed in America today.