August 25, 2023

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley Demands Top U.S. Banks Fulfill Their Racial Equity Promises

Ayanna Pressley

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley has called on the five largest banks in America, asking them to update their racial equity commitments following the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom Anniversary

Approaching the 60th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Representative Pressley, a House Financial Services Committee member, has reached out to the five largest American banks for updates. Held on August 28, 1963, in Washington, D.C., this pivotal march sought to champion African Americans’ civil and economic rights. Its significant impact was evident when it pressured President John F. Kennedy’s administration to introduce a robust civil rights bill in Congress. It was at this iconic event that Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his unforgettable “I Have a Dream” speech.

The Pledges

After the murder of George Floyd in 2020, several businesses and banks made pledges to increase diversity efforts.

JPMorgan made a $30 billion commitment over five years, which included expanded housing programs and business lending.

Citi and Bank of America both pledged $1 billion, with Bank of America expanding its efforts to $1.25 billion in March 2021.

Wells Fargo, last September, announced a racial equity audit of programs, including a $420 million fund for diverse small-business owners.

Lastly, USBancorp committed $116 in June to address racial and economic disparities. 

Calling On Banks

Pressley is asking the banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and Citi, Rep, to provide a detailed update on the racial equity commitments they made following the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

In the letters sent to the banks, she outlined the racial disparities perpetuated by the financial industry and requested a financial audit report detailing the current status of their pledges.

“As the CEO of one of the five largest banks in the nation, you play a key role in determining which individuals and communities have access to economic opportunity,” Pressley wrote.

“Your prior statements and pledge are welcome steps, but there needs to be greater transparency on the actions your bank has taken.”

The letters outlined the growing racial wealth gap in America. They detailed how banks have been lead actors in Black communities’ discrimination, exploitation and degradation.

Pressley also requested the banks provide a detailed financial report and descriptions of the progress made on their commitments by October 23 of this year.

They should include amounts disbursed categorized by bank function, demographic and geographic data of recipients, institutional policy changes to financial services, and plans related to their pledge.

“As one of the five largest banks in the United States, it is critical your financial power is used to rectify the wrongdoing and heal the very communities harmed by the historical and contemporary role that institutions such as yours have played and continue to play in perpetuating racial inequalities,” she wrote.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.