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Wrapping up African-American History Month

Wrapping up African-American History Month

February 27, 2020

As African-American History Month comes to end, we wanted to shed some light on the crucial role African Americans have played in the financial world. Here are only a few of those moments in financial history:


  • In 1778,Richard Allen and Absalom Jones established the Free African Slave Society, an organization to help educate newly freed people on socioeconomic issues. Newly freed slaves were entering into a world that expected them to fail, so Allena and Jones creates a Society that aimed to equip them with the tools and support necessary to overcome these expectations. This Society served as a platform for African Americans to successfully make the transition from slave life to being a freed people.
  • In 1888, Capitol Savings Bank is the first bank founded and operated by African Americans. This was a huge moment because white-owned banks were intentionally hindering the growth of black businesses by refusing to lend to African Americans. The founding of this bank caused an enormous ripple effect of positive economic growth in the black community. Other institutions, like African American churches and organizations, soon shared the same goal in giving African Americans a venue in which they could build and better their businesses.
  • In 1970, Joseph L. Searles III was the first African American member of the New York Stock Exchange. While in high school in Texas, Searles became the first African American player on the battalion team and went on to be somewhat of a star player at Kansas State University. He then went on to attend and graduate law school from George Washington University. Searles made his way into the New York Stock Exchange after working as an aide for New York City Mayor John Lindsey and was offered the job as a floor trader and general partner at a firm on Wall Street.
  • In 1993, Ron Brown became the first African American Secretary of Commerce. Before becoming Secretary of Commerce, Brown commanded several units in the U.S. Army and earned his law degree from St. John’s University, after returning to civilian life. Brown was appointed Secretary of Commerce under the Clinton administration. Tragically, Brown was killed in a 1996 plane crash in Croatia, along with 34 others. The Ron Brown Award was created by Clinton, in Brown’s memory, for individuals focusing on corporate leadership and responsibility.
  • In 2018, Lauren Simmons became the youngest and only female equity trader at 23 years old. Simmons graduated from Kennesaw State University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in genetics, but soon after she quickly moved to New York and switched to working in statistics. She used the power of networking to ultimately land her the opportunity of being mentored by Richard Rosenblatt, the CEO of Rosenblatt Securities. Her story is currently in the process of being turned into a movie.


These moments in history barely scratch the surface on the importance African Americans have had in the financial industry. African Americans continue to influence others and carve the path for many others, especially those who come from a background of hardship and struggle due to being seen as a minority. Although February is almost over, let us continue educating ourselves and acknowledging the great accomplishments African Americans have made in society.