It was reported yesterday that New York City-based Carver Federal Savings Bank, the largest black-owned bank in the country, might have to close its doors following a shareholders’ meeting today.

Thankfully, that won’t happen.

According to a bank official, Carver will receive a $55 million infusion of cash and will be saved. But for how long? Every few years, the bank seems to be in the same position, while the major conglomerate banks — Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, etc. — are thriving following a bailout from the American taxpayer.

So community banks that service the people are failing, while the big banks that are presiding over record foreclosures, ridiculous fees and no lending to small business, are hitting record profits?

As I watch Occupy (fill in the blank) movement spread across the country and the world, there has been an outcry for an agenda. A real agenda. Well, here’s one for them: Urge people to support local and community banks. Put the pressure of the conglomerates (the Bank of Americas, the Wells Fargos and the Citibanks, etc.), to really service the community that bailed them out.

This is a can-do action that can get real results. This is the kind of thing that will put the power back in the hands of the people.

While blame can definitely be laid at the feet of government (namely the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill) for the banks lack of accountability, nothing is stopping the banks themselves from doing the right thing.

They certainly can’t cry broke.

Bank of America earned $6.2 billion in profits last quarter. Wells Fargo announced a record third-quarter profit of $4.06 billion. And Citibank’s earnings rose 74 percent to $3.8 billion in the third quarter — the seventh straight quarter of income growth for the bank.
While we, the people, are experiencing one of the worst financial crisis in our generation, the banks are experiencing record profits. And have the audacity to raise fees?

This is one case where you can be mad as hell and actually do something about it.
When I started my first business back in 1999, with cash from investors from Bear Stearns, one of the first things I did was purchase a large CD at Carver. I’m not from Harlem, nor have I ever lived there, but I believed in the bank and its mission and its leadership behind Deborah Wright.

I wanted to contribute to the vision of the bank, which was founded in 1948, and named after legendary inventor and scientist George Washington Carver. And I wanted to see it continue because, quite frankly, how many black-owned banks are there? And haven’t black banks been the backbone to economic development in the black community?

Yes. And the demise of the black banks can be directly tied to the high unemployment and record poverty in the black community. According to a theGrio, between 1888 and 1934, there were more than 130 U.S. banks owned by African-Americans, which is believed to have been the force behind the explosion of African-American businesses, which grew from 4,000 in 1867 to approximately 50,000 by 1917.

Today, according to a March 2010 Federal Reserve Board report, only 30 U.S. banks are black-owned.

By putting our money behind Carver and community banks like it, we are securing our own futures and jobs and economic survival.

Under Wright, while the bank has struggled, it has even during its struggles served the community — providing loans for small businesses and launching a check-cashing program, “Carver Community Cash,” to counter the often-predatory check cashing spots in our neighborhoods. Giving people who have to use check cashing places as an option, dignity without the exorbitant fees.

You want to protest the imbalance and injustices going on in this country? Do something. While it’s cool to march, and bang on bongos, and sleep in parks, and cry out about injustice, it’s far more rewarding to put your money where you mouth is.