HARVEY, Ill. (CBS) — An alliance between black churches in the south suburbs and a local bank is raising eyebrows at the NAACP.
The Ministers Conference of South Suburban Cook County is teaming up with First Midwest Bank a week from Saturday for a financial literacy workshop in south suburban Harvey. The goal is to get poor people away from currency exchanges and into banks.
The head of the Ministers conference, Bishop G.H. Bruden, said he wants to “sign up as many people as possible.”
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports
A First Midwest representative who attended a meeting with the ministers said “we’re not just trying to open accounts. We’re trying to build relationships.”
David L. Lowery Jr., the President of the Chicago-Far South Suburban branch of the NAACP, said he believes the bank is reaching out to the black community for one reason: to get them as customers.
“Banks have not been kind to minorities, and the only time they were kind to us was with the sub-prime lending situation, where they knew people couldn’t afford homes in the first place and gave them loans anyway,” Lowery said.
If the bank is really interested in helping the poor, he said, black customers should be treated the same as white customers, and should be able to get loans and credit cards and other services that white customers get.
The FDIC conducted a study in 2009 that found there were about 17-million American adults who didn’t have bank accounts. It also found that there were about 43-million more who had accounts but relied heavily on currency exchanges and check cashing businesses.