By Ryan Velez
A Black-owned bank at Brownsville Illinois, Chicago in the USA on the edge of collapse, has received a new chance at success from a rather unlikely source—a firm based in Ghana, West Africa.
Groupe Ndoum has invested $9 million into the Illinois Service Federal Savings and Loan Association, now known as ISF Bank, Ghana Web reported. At the time, the Chicago-area bank was struggling to obtain capital in hope of infusing life into its operations.
According to a statement on the bank’s website, “Our mission is to be a viable, growing, community development financial services institution responding innovatively to our primarily underserved and minority constituency with customer service which ensures each customer feels they are our only customer,” the bank’s website reads.”
Groupe Ndoum operates out of West Africa and the United Kingdom, with over 3,000 employees. The firm is involved with entities in the tourism, financial services, media, cross border trade, and media industries. Company president and chairman Dr. Papa Kwesi Ndoum mentioned that the acquisition of ISF Bank was not only a landmark for the company, but “a major step for Africans” as well, hoping that other African- Americans and Africans would work together.
“In the Jewish community, they find a way to help each other, and they have moved on,” Ndoum said at a Chicago town hall meeting of Africans and African-Americans. “The Chinese start with little and move on, and the Koreans also come here and move on,” he explained. “So, we have this idea: What is it about African-Americans, Africans, specifically Ghanaians?…. The African has talent, the African-American has talent, the Ghanaian has talent; the problem is a lack of opportunity.”
Former ISF Chairman and CEO, Norman J. Williams, was also happy to welcome the business’s new proprietors. “This marks a new chapter in the life of the bank, which will enable it to sustain the rigors of financial stress that have plagued many communities in Chicago and continue to provide much-needed banking services and access to credit,” Williams said. “Given the current climate in our country, the bank is needed more than ever to provide financial services and drive redevelopment in our market.”
Black-owned banks have been a important part of Black communities dating all the way to the Jim Crow era, providing essential support to Black entrepreneurs, businesses, and institutions. Despite this, they have slowly been declining over the years, from 130 between 1888 and 1934 to 48 in 2001, to only 22 remaining today.
[The world-wide Pan-African Movement considers the African diaspora all over the world the continent’s 6th region. In a resolution reached in March 2015 in Ghana, the Pan African movement called on African nations to speed up incorporating the 6th region into the African Union.]
Meanwhile, the African American politician Andrew Young was forced to apologize for making derogatory remarks against the Black Lives Matter movement in the US. As young black Americans took to the streets to protest racist killings of black people, Andrew Young, known to be Martin Luther King Jr.’s former friend opposed the protests, calling the protesters “unlovable little brats.”
“Those are some unlovable little brats out there some times,” Andrew Young told Atlanta police officers during a “pep talk”, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported. “Don’t let anybody get you upset.” Young went on to tell the cops he’s fed up with the protesters.
“These kids are able to show off with no consequences. I just hope they get tired of it,” Young adding that the protests could “mess up the climate we have taken 50 years to build.” But the Georgia black civil rights organization NAACP took issue with Young’s seemingly derisive comments in a statement:
“While not discounting Andrew Young’s historical contributions to this nation’s progress, Mr. Young cannot cloak himself with the memory of Dr. (Martin Luther) King and expect that serious students of the civil rights movement will not call foul on his statements denigrating legitimate protest only to appease his establishment and corporate friends,”said Francys Johnson, president of the Georgia NAACP.
“It belittles what we’re out here for, which is just to fight for basic rights,” said Tayah Powell, with the group Silent Majority, which organized some of the protests in Atlanta.
In Atlanta, Georgia, theChannel 2 reporter Sophia Choi spoke with Andrew Young as he returned from a trip to Atlanta at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Choi said Young was apologetic and more than ready to respond to those protesters who said he was insensitive.
“I apologize if I got overemotional,” Young told Choi about the comment. The protesters said they are anything but brats. “All of us are either foster children or don’t have both parents in the household. Even economically, we are impoverished,” said Daniel Scurry, with Silent Majority.
Young made the controversial comment during a meeting with Atlanta police over the weekend. “Those are some unlovable little brats, but you got to love them anyway,” he said.
Young, a onetime US Secretary of State said his comment was directed only at the young protesters who tried to provoke police and those who tried to run onto the interstate, putting lives in danger. “I was panicked,” Young told Choi. “I was anxious, lest some of these young people run out on an expressway.” Young said even his own granddaughter had some choice words for him.
“She said she was ashamed of me and she said, ‘You ought to know better,’” Young said. Young said he never meant to offend protesters. He really only meant to thank the police officers who kept their cool under enormous pressures during the demonstrations.