Atlanta Hawks And Black Owned Banks Unite

By: Lawrence Brooks

2020 has been a historic year for many reasons.  Some good and certainly some bad.  However, the Atlanta Hawks continue to show that their Diversity and Inclusion efforts aren’t just performative.  NBA released news that the Hawks became the first NBA team, and first major pro sports team ever to secure financing with black-owned banks.  The agreement was $35 million in the refinancing of the Emory Sports Medicine Complex.  Emory Sports Complex is the official training and practice facility for the Atlanta Hawks.  A select group of black banks took part in this deal, most notably Carver State Bank.  Followed by Carver Federal Savings Bank, Citizens Savings Bank, Citizens Trust Bank, Commonwealth National Bank, Industrial Bank, Liberty Bank & Trust, M&F Bank, and Optus Bank.

This transaction is such a huge plus for the black community and minorities overall.  The Principal Owner of the Atlanta Hawks, Tony Ressler says “Today’s announcement reflects our commitment to putting our values into action–by choosing to work with Black banks and drawing attention to the need for Black banks to thrive as they work toward addressing the lack of access to capital in Black communities.”  Black banks having Tony’s support demonstrates incredible empowerment towards potential new and existing black-owned businesses.  As we all strive for opportunities in this country it is important to highlight business such as what the Hawks have done.  The Nation Black Bank Foundation spoke on this outstanding accomplishment as well.  General Council member of NBBF, Ashley Bell says “Because of the Hawks’ leadership and commitment to financial inclusion, Black banks are finally playing in the major league.”  It has been nearly impossible for black-owned banks to compete with major commercial banks as it pertains to catering to the needs of minority borrowers. A move like this could change the way other NBA franchises look to finance or in this case refinance their arenas and practice facilities.

We can’t get enough good news these days and this shows that maybe, just maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel.  There is still so much change to address, but these are the steps that breed a little optimism.  Equality is what we are striving for as a country and financial issues are a major part of the equation.  Quick note to mention, in minority-majority zip codes, Black banks are often the primary source for fair, non-predatory lending. Since 2001, their numbers have fallen by more than 50 percent. Only 18 Black-owned banks remain today according to the FDIC.  Big Salute to the Atlanta Hawks for taking a step nobody else has taken.  This is a shining moment for 2020 and it deserves to be applauded.