A nearly century-old black-owned bank in Atlanta has seen a flash flood of new customers after a celebrity rapper called for African-Americans to pair their protests with their dollars.
Atlanta’s Citizen’s Trust reportedly received thousands of new accounts and inquiries since Atlanta rapper Michael Render, better known as Killer Mike, angrily reacted to the recent police shooting deaths of two black men in Minnesota and Louisiana by calling during a radio interview for African-Americans to move their money to black-owned banks.
“I’m angry. I’m hurt. I’m disgusted. I’m ashamed to be a part of this country,” Render said in an emotional interview last week on Atlanta’s Hot 107.9 FM radio, which was picked up by online news site HipHopWired, after the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
“You can go to your bank tomorrow,” he said, “and say, ‘Until you as a corporation start to speak on our behalf, I want all my money, and I’m taking all my money to Citizen’s Trust.’ “
People apparently listened.
According to various news accounts on television and online, the Atlanta bank got more than 8,000 new deposit accounts in less than a week.
The 95-year-old institution is one of the nation’s largest black-owned banks, with $404.5 million in assets, but its deposits — its key source of money to loan out — had been on a long-term decline, until recently.
The bank had $342.4 million in deposits at the end of March, down slightly from year-end 2011, but up more than 4 percent since dipping to $328.9 million last year.
The report of 8,000 new customers is “elevated,” said Diedra St. Julien, marketing director at Citizen’s Trust. “We have seen an influx of new accounts and visits and applications, but there’s a big difference between applications and accounts,” she said.
She declined to say how many accounts had been opened.
But it was enough to win a public thank-you via Twitter to Killer Mike from Citizen's Trust CEO Cynthia Day. "Together, we can change the conversation," Day said in a tweet to the rapper.
St. Julien said the bank’s deposit growth has been on the upswing in the “last few months” since the bank appointed a 13-member “Next Generation Advisory Board” of business leaders and professionals under age 40 to help it reach out to younger potential customers.
But St. Julien said she hadn’t seen anything like the spike in business in the past week or so.
“This is remarkable,” she said.