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1,000 turn out for Miami #BankBlack event

Donna Bascombe opens a bank account for her one-year-old grandson Isaiah Bascombe during a #BankBlack Movement event at OneUnited Bank in West Little River on Saturday, July 30, 2016.
Donna Bascombe opens a bank account for her one-year-old grandson Isaiah Bascombe during a #BankBlack Movement event at OneUnited Bank in West Little River on Saturday, July 30, 2016. mocner@miamiherald.com

The black community’s economic empowerment movement came to Miami on Saturday, when about 1,000 turned out at the Liberty City branch of OneUnited Bank as part of the #BankBlack initiative.

Rapper Killer Mike, who sparked the movement through social media, was among those on hand encouraging African Americans to open accounts at black-owned institutions. The Miami Dade Chamber of Commerce, The Young Professionals Network, Black Professionals Summit and HOT 105 Radio were among the organizers of the three-hour event. About 550 new bank accounts were opened during the period.

The grassroots movement isn’t just about beefing up the nation’s black-owned financial institutions, according to OneUnited Bank president Teri Williams Cohee. With almost $622 million in assets, Boston-based OneUnited is the nation’s largest black-owned bank.

“It’s generated an awareness in the black community of the power of our dollars,” Williams Cohee said. “We have the ability as a community to move large numbers of dollars.”

As the hashtag indicates, moving those dollars within the black community includes moving accounts to black-owned banks.

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 24 depository institutions in the U.S. are classified as black or African-American owned. As of July 13, they held almost $6 billion in assets.

Saturday’s account opening event followed a similar event in Los Angeles that saw 150 to 200 new accounts opened in three hours, according to Williams Cohee.

Williams Cohee likened the patience of those waiting in long lines to people waiting to wield another piece of American citizen power, the right to vote.

In mid-July, Citizens Trust Bank of Atlanta saw a surge of 8,000 new applications for accounts, according to USA Today, while Unity National bank in Texas saw a boost of 350 new accounts in a single week, reported the Houston Chronicle.

Miami Herald staffer Jane Wooldridge contributed to this report.

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