How Four Community Banks Recognize and Celebrate Juneteenth

By Valerie Utsey

June 16, 2022

While Juneteenth is the youngest U.S. federal holiday after it became formally recognized in a law enacted last year, it has decades of significance—with June 19, 1865, recognized as the end of slavery in the United States. ICBA and many community banks nationwide are honoring the day by reflecting on its significance and giving back to local communities.

Day of Remembrance

For Citizens Trust Bank, an African American-owned bank in Atlanta, inclusion and championing economic equality permeates everything they do. With the recent declaration of Juneteenth as a national day of remembrance, the bank is honored to showcase the impact and value of the relationship it continues to foster with the small businesses and community citizens its serves as part of its celebration plans, said Cynthia N. Day, president and CEO.

This year as part of its Juneteenth celebration, Citizens Trust Bank:

  • Joined more than a dozen minority depository institutions for a series of financial literacy events to continue to promote the importance of financial literacy and sound money management.
  • Launched a financial wellness platform in association with the National Bankers Community Alliance, an affiliate of the National Bankers Association, to help more communities achieve financial wellness.
  • Rolled out customer spotlight videos on social media highlighting their relationship with Citizens Trust Bank and the bank’s commitment to small businesses to support their growth and the overall health of community ecosystems.
  • ICBA is joining community banks to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States and foster greater understanding and economic opportunity for all Americans. Our offices will be closed June 20 as a day of reflection and celebration.

    Americans can use this day to enhance their understanding of the significance of this holiday and to give back to their communities. The following resources offer more information on the history of Juneteenth and how you can join in planned celebrations.

Other examples of outreach by black-owned community banks to communities of color include:

  • Savannah-Ga.-based Carver State Bank, which partnered with Georgia Tech's Enterprise Innovation Institute for a virtual roadshow to help minority-owned businesses in the state foster partnerships and gain access to capital.
  • One United Bank, in Boston, which will report on its efforts to build wealth in Black communities during a Facebook Live event on June 16.

Agent of Change

Juneteenth celebrations aren’t limited to MDIs, however. Lead Bank in Kansas City, Mo., has made a concerted effort to support marginalized communities and has partnered with community groups like Give Black KC to provide grants for black-owned businesses. In addition to financial support, bank employees volunteer weekly to share their financial expertise for community members through the community bank’s longstanding affiliation with GIFT (Giving Income For Tomorrow).

Like other community banks, Lead Bank celebrated Juneteenth before it was declared a national holiday in 2021, said Chief Marketing Officer Melissa Beltrame. The bank will also serve as a sponsor for a local Juneteenth festival in Kansas City, “so the entire community can remember the country’s liberation and commitment to being a free people.”

Working to “activate trust and increase awareness” through community outreach is part of Lead Bank’s larger strategic initiative around inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA), which is tied to outlined expectations, deliverables, goals and execution targets. Employees must have an IDEA goal among their performance goals and are given time to volunteer in the community, which helps ensure workforce diversity and customer accountability, Beltrame said.

ICBA Resources

Community banks planning to celebrate can access customizable resources on ICBA’s Marketing and Communications Toolkit and share their stories of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in their local communities.

The significance of Juneteenth is perhaps best summed up by Lead Bank’s Beltrame, who says this historic date is a chance to “honor and celebrate a time in our history when the right decision was made to move our country forward to become a more perfect union.”