Pathways to Freedom?
Capital, courage, connection. The NC Mutual and its sister financial institutions were part of a community that supported generations of Durham’s black entrepreneurs during and after Jim Crow.
Today, the NC Mutual is on the brink. The State of North Carolina has taken it over. It can no longer issue new insurance policies. There were fifty black insurance companies in the US in the 1980s. NC Mutual is now one of just two black-owned insurance companies left in the country, and black banks are also under threat.
The greatest entrepreneurial activity demonstrated by Negro businessmen has been in the field of finance.
Before NC Mutual experienced trouble, smaller black businesses in Durham began to close. Many were unable to compete with white-owned companies after desegregation. In Hayti, the City of Durham’s Urban Renewal program razed more than one hundred black businesses.
What will it take to support black entrepreneurs today?
Black Banks in the US Today
The black-owned banks remaining in the US, December 2018. There are twenty-three in total, down from sixty in 1985 and forty-eight in 2001. At their height, there were more than one hundred.
The racial wealth gap in the US, 2016. At the end of the Civil War, black Americans made up 14% of the population, but owned only 0.5% of the wealth. Today, their share of the wealth has increased by less than 2%. Business ownership is one of the main paths to wealth creation, but black entrepreneurs cannot advance without institutional investment in their success.
Courtesy The Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University
Bank loan denials in the North Carolina, 2016. Black banks serve working people in neighborhoods of color nationally. With the loss of black banks, these neighborhoods have been redlined and denied access to financial services. Statistics like these show the discrimination that primarily black people face in the white-owned financial marketplace.
Courtesy North Carolina Public Radio – WUNC and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting
We lost the monopoly on Black business–which we’d had.