DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The nation’s second-oldest bank founded by African-Americans is the center of what’s known as Durham’s historic Black Wall Street.
Originally called Mechanics and Farmers Bank, M&F Bank has been a constant despite all the change around it. It was founded in 1907 and has turned a profit every single year — including during the Great Depression and every recession after it.
The Parrish Street branch downsized from 3,400 to 1,500 square feet to help it stay competitive as more people turn to online banking. It has updated its look, as well.
“This is the most technological branch in downtown Durham,” said M&F Bank President and CEO James Sills.
What hasn’t changed, though, is the original safe. It’s a reminder of a time when African-Americans found it hard to find a place to deposit money, earn interest, and get a loan. Mechanics and Farmers changed that.
“There’s an unbelievable wealth gap, and so, our bank has been able to provide access to capital to business to nonprofits to consumers. And, over the past 113 years, we’ve probably provided about $1.4 billion in loans to the communities where we are located,” SiIls said.
Now, during Black History Month, M&F Bank debuts a new look while holding onto a reputation and approach to banking that has stood the test of time.
“It’s kind of exhilarating to know that something that’s been in business since 1907 is still in business today,” Sills said. “And (it’s) still very strong and still serving the community.”
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