Marker Celebrates First Black-Owned Bank in SC

Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Franchot Brown remembers trips to Victory Savings Bank with his parents.

"My involvement with Victory Savings Bank started when I was a child," he said. "I had a Christmas Savings Club account because the whole object of the bank was to teach young people how to save."

Now he will look back on Columbia honoring the state's first black-owned financial institution, a bank that gave African-Americans a chance when others would not.

'We were not as welcome. I don't think there's any doubt about that during the day. Columbia was never the most racist city…but we certainly we not treated 100 percent fairly by the white community," recalled Brown, who also served as a former bank board member.

The bank was founded in 1921. It was originally opened at 1107 Washington Street in what was the heart of the black business district. The bank later moved to 919 Washington Street in 1955.

Brown says the bank gave African-Americans a financial foundation, and respect while doing business.

Now, through work from Historic Columbia and Columbia SC 63, that legacy will be remembered with a marker at 919 Washington Street.

"This building and this marker is a reminder of the history all around us and the invaluable lessons one can find on nearly every corner, and I think particularly for Civil Rights, we're reminded that this building was just one of a number of structures that served as a symbol of the struggle among African-Americans for a better future for themselves," said Dr. Bobby Donaldson, an Associate Professor of History at the University of South Carolina and Columbia SC 63 Co-Chair.

Through the years, the bank has seen some changes. Since 1999 it has been known as the South Carolina Community Bank and locations have moved but its roots and its story will now live on.

"People can remember, who can go back that far and for persons who cannot go back that far, to let them know of this institution that was here and the importance it had," said Brown.


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