Bo Young joined forces with his father, civil rights activist Andrew Young, as well as media mogul Ryan Glover and rapper and activist Killer Mike to create an online banking platform for minority consumers and their allies. Since it launched in October, Greenwood has raised $40 million in funding from some of the biggest names in finance, it announced on Thursday.
The platform is geared toward Black and Latino individuals and business owners. As of 2017, close to 17% of Black households and 14% of Hispanic families lacked basic financial services, compared with just 3% of White households.
“What we want to do is create an opportunity that is sharply targeted towards Blacks and Hispanics, to make things better for everyone,” Bo Young told CBS News’ Jessi Mitchell.
Greenwood will partner with small Black-owned banks to distribute lending opportunities equally. The name may sound familiar — it’s a nod to the famed Black Wall Street of Tulsa that infamously burned to the ground at the hands of White neighbors. In 1921,
they attacked Tulsa’s Black district of Greenwood.
Killer Mike of the rap group Run the Jewels said Greenwood didn’t bounce back from the massacre “because the evil that destroyed Greenwood didn’t die.”
These days, Killer Mike is arguably better known for his activism than his music, calling for Americans to buy Black and bank Black throughout last year’s protests forHe saw just how hard that was first-hand on his Netflix show, “Trigger Warning with Killer Mike.”
“You tried to buy Black during an experiment for ‘Trigger Warning?'” Mitchell asked.
“Yes… It was easier for my granddad to buy Black in 1940 when he got to Atlanta,” he responded.
According to the federal reserve, White families in the U.S. have on average eight times greater net worth than Black families and five times greater than Latino families.
Young said even he faces challenges raising capital for his businesses, despite carrying his father’s esteemed name. He said he thinks it’s hard for Black and Latino people to get loans due to systematic racism that he said becomes almost a “subconscious thing” within the country.
Now, however, some big banks are looking to make amends. This week, some of the nation’s largest financial corporations announced their partnership with Greenwood, along with athletes and celebrities, including actor Jesse Williams.
Vanessa Vreeland, who is the head of the largest donor, Truist Ventures, said they just want to see the platform succeed.
“We’re not really looking for anything in exchange. We’re really just looking to close that wealth gap,” Vreeland said.
The platform plans to donate a percentage of profits to Black and Latino nonprofit groups. “When we’re given access to opportunity and capital, we thrive and exceed expectations, every time,” Young said.
Lauren Phillips, who applied for an account early on, said, “I appreciate the fact that they wanted to give this a shot, and they’re doing it right now, so no better time than right now.”
As the 100th anniversary of the Greenwood massacre approaches this May, the Greenwood banking platform plans to pay homage by moving the culture forward.
“We want to make sure that the legacy of Greenwood is not one of a racist past evil event that destroyed us, but rather one of the Phoenix that rose out of that fire that became a spirit that swept the nation financially,” Killer Mike said.
Greenwood accounts open for business this summer.