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D.C. Treasury Annex Building Renamed for Historic Freedman’s Bank

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company on Thursday by renaming the Treasury Annex building in Washington D.C. the Freedman’s Bank Building.

The building stands on the original site of the Freedman’s Bank, which was created in 1865 to help African Americans, who had been recently emancipated, participate in the U.S. economy.

“Naming the Freedman’s Bank Building recognizes an institution that symbolized a new future for African Americans,” said Lew in a statement. “The legacy of Freedman’s Bank also serves as a reminder that we must continue striving for greater financial inclusion for all Americans – particularly those in underserved and minority communities – so that they can share in the benefits of our growing economy.”

The bank was created by an act of Congress in the days following the Civil War as a response to the mismanagement of savings from Black soldiers and runaway slaves that were deposited in small banks built through the south.

John W. Alvord, a minister and A.M. Sperry, an abolitionist, organized the institution in 1864 and Congress passed legislation incorporating it the next year. In its nearly 10 years of operation, about 100,000 African Americans deposited $57 million in the bank’s Washington D.C., headquarters and branches in 37 cities.