According to some historians, the failure of the Freedman’s Bank created in African Americans a deep distrust of banks. The bank’s failure was certainly a tremendous blow. Most individuals lost every penny they had saved. But African Americans had also taken pride in the Freedman’s Bank. At a time when some people were saying that ex-slaves could not make it on their own, the Freedman’s Bank was one piece of demonstrable proof that they could. Ministers, community leaders, and teachers had worked hard to convince people to trust the bank.
The DC headquarters of the Freedman’s Bank was torn down in 1899. About 20 years later, the US Treasury Department built its new Annex building on the same spot. Although the physical headquarters no longer stands, the Freedman’s Bank is an important landmark in American history. To honor the bank’s legacy, on January 7, 2016, the Treasury Department commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Freedman’s Bank by renaming the Treasury Annex the Freedman’s Bank Building. Speaking to those in attendance, the head of the Treasury Department, Jacob J. Lew, noted that “The legacy of Freedman’s Bank also serves as a reminder that we must continue striving for greater financial inclusion for all Americans – particularly those in underserved communities – so that they can share in the benefits of our growing economy.”
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