To our Clients and Community,
The protests of the last week have inspired much reflection for our nation. We have been brought face to face with the consequences of racial discrimination and the repeated violation of the civil rights of African Americans. We look ahead to the future with uncertainty and fear, not knowing what will come next. I write to you today to speak to Lead Bank’s mission, values, and our hopes for the future.
Lead Bank has been a community bank since 1928. In the aftermath of the Financial Crisis of 2008, we changed our name from Garden City Bank to Lead Bank because we intended to be different, to announce that we would, from now on, take the lead in our actions so that we would better, and more ethically, serve our communities. Since that time, we have improved our products and services to serve everyone. We have examined our practices, our hiring, and our assumptions to make Lead Bank fit for the purpose of serving all people in our communities. We have also created special lending and banking programs to serve people in our community who had been historically excluded by banks.
The truth is that throughout history, banks in the United States have been a key instrument in building and continuing structures of racism that have played a big role in creating the social distress we now see. One example: redlining prevented generations of black families from using their home equity in the way white people routinely did, to fund college education or start a business. We are painfully familiar with that story in Kansas City.
But what we need to understand and be accountable for, today, is the compounded effect of that loss over time – the consequences for the children, the grandchildren, the great grandchildren – who still pay the price of that racism in under-funded businesses, inability to pay for college or better schooling, decaying neighborhoods with impaired property values, and poor physical health and high mortality. The COVID19 Pandemic has exposed how the denial of loans to African Americans has created catastrophic health consequences for African Americans, well above the damage suffered in white communities.
When the prior generation cannot help the next generation financially, the setback is almost impossible to recover from, and distinguishes the reality of white communities from black communities today. This is the toxin of discrimination in banking; it stays in our culture’s bloodstream for generations. And exclusion or marginalization of African Americans from mainstream finance persists, both as legacy of earlier actions, but also today, throughout the banking industry.
Lead Bank recognizes that we must be part of a solution to eliminate the structure of racism that prevent African Americans from having full and fair access to banking. We recognize that the banking industry has aided and abetted those structures, and so it is our responsibility to tear them down.
We believe deeply in the principles of due process, civil rights, justice and their moral expression in compassion, openness, and imagination. We stand with each and every member of our community who demands an end to racism, who will work for fundamental examination of our laws and practices and their reform, who will welcome honest and difficult, conversations about our perspectives and different histories, so that we can together build communities that are successful for all people in them.
Joshua C. Rowland
Chief Executive Officer