October 15, 1900
The Rev. William Reuben Pettiford opened the Alabama Penny Savings Bank in Birmingham, the state’s first black-owned and black-operated financial institution. Designed to encourage black businesses and give black citizens a better way to save money, the bank eventually became the largest black-owned bank in the country and included branches in Selma, Anniston and Montgomery. In 1906, Pettiford helped found the National Negro Bankers’ Association and served as its first president until his death, becoming the leading figure in the nation’s African-American bank movement. Despite the institution’s success, the bank failed without Pettiford’s leadership and closed its doors in 1915, less than a year after his death.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.