Nashville, TN home to America’s oldest Black-owned bank

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Our nation’s oldest black-owned bank is located in Nashville, Tennessee.

Citizens Savings Savings and Trust was founded in 1904, known as Eleven Cent Savings Bank.

Three African-American men dreamed of helping others build wealth and financial security. This dream led RH Boyd, Preston Taylor and JC Napier to open the bank on January 16, 1904.

It was a time after Civil War Reconstruction, when race relations were still divided.

“They were the only ones who made the first move that we were the only options,” said Corey Hammonds, the bank’s director of credit operations.

He gave News 2’s Kenley Hargett some insight into the founders.

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“The mission of what these principal founders started, we continue to do the same,” he said. “It’s got to be on us, it’s got to be on us, it’s been on us, what we’re doing today is we’re just trying to take it to the next step.”

The creation of financial legacies for African Americans through their bank is still happening today.

Hammonds said many black churches and families have relied on them for banking since they are not allowed to use other commercial banks.

Among the legacies helped are the Reverend Tonia Keys, her family and her church: Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist.

“It was very important. I remember my parents, my uncles, my aunts that was the bank they used. In fact, many of my family members still bank there today because, like you said, it was the only bank we could put our money in,” Keys said.

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Keys said the bench helped other church reverends advance for African-Americans throughout Nashville.

“It’s been a very good working relationship, like I said, they’ve been our bank, we’ve met a lot of the people who worked there we had personal relationships with them to where we can call them if we need them,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hammonds believes there is much more work to be done to improve financial literacy and bring a more diverse workforce to the banking industry.

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He said this is possible as long as the same vision of progression that the founders had more than a hundred years ago continues.

“The educational component is the stigma, what people need to understand is where you put your money is what you support, so when you put your money in an African-American-owned bank, you’re supporting the African American. community,” Hammonds said.

Citizens Savings Bank and Trust has a historical marker right outside its main branch on Jefferson Street. It is a reminder of the progress made by the bank in its sector.


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