Amalgamated Bank has become the first major American bank to support and endorse the creation of a federal commission to develop reparations proposals for African Americans.
The legislation, HR 40 was sponsored by Texas congresswoman, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.
Amalgamated is the largest union-owned bank in the country and also called for “tangible remedies” for African Americans and called for the United States to explicitly apologize for how the dark history of slavery in this country became the foundation for America’s current economy.
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In a statement, the bank wrote that it “doubled-down on its commitment to racial justice initiatives” after being “catapulted by the cruel murder of George Floyd, the bank issued a statement supporting Black Lives Matter and publicly committed to 10 concrete actions to support racial justice, including the formation of a Racial Justice Task Force to build a more inclusive work environment.”
The bank wrote that it aims to “be a leader among its peers in creating a more just, sustainable world.”
The nearly 100-year-old bank has assets above $6 billion and wrote that “there is more for all of us to do to stem the tide of complacency and call for higher levels of justice for all people.”
The bank writes that there are “deep roots” that connect the financial sector to America’s historical slave economy. Further, it details current issues like “redlining, withholding investment into black-owned businesses, predatory lending practices, engaging in predatory payday lending, and charging exorbitant fees” contribute to modern income gaps.
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The bank adds that reparations are not a new concept in this country or many others and that they are needed for the government to “make amends for past violations, apologize, and restore equity among impacted communities.”
In addition to the endorsement, Amalgamated Bank and its charitable arm, the Amalgamated Foundation will develop strategies in support of reparations in the coming months.
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