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Group has raised more than half of $2 million goal

Efforts continue to charter minority bank on the Coast

GULFPORT – The Mississippi Gulf Coast Minority Banking Group has raised more than $1 million towards its goal of reaching the $2 million in capital needed to

charter a new bank in Mississippi.

William Golden, president of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Minority Banking Group, said efforts to start a minority controlled bank for the Coast started in 1995.

“Since that time we have been ever so diligent in bringing this dream into reality,” Golden said. “It has been a slow process, but it has been a continuous process. We

are not trying necessarily to compete with other banks. We want to establish our own niche in the community. We do see that it is needed.”

A report released by U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno concluded that discrimination in business lending is a problem in the country. Golden said that many minorities

on the Gulf Coast feel they have not been able to get the kind of services from banking institutions that they deserve.

“People or businesses who are credit worthy have gone to some of the banking institutions for credit or loans, and were unable to get it,” Golden said. “There was no

reason for it because they had the credit worthiness to get the loans. Since they were not able to get the loans, that showed us there is a problem somewhere. It could

not have been a problem with the color of the money. It had to be dealing with the color of the skin. Racism is ever alive and well in this country, and we know that.

So, we have to do something to help ourselves to be able to live under these conditions.”

In addition to assuring that loan funds are available to qualified applicants, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Minority Banking Group is also interested in educating the public,

and helping people improve their credit rating.

“Our public schools don’t teach a great deal about money and how money works,” said Golden, who is a registered nurse and associate minister at the First

Missionary Baptist Church in Gulfport. “We see that as a problem. If you don’t have the knowledge or education about how the dollar works, you are less inclined to

be part of the mainstream. Knowledge is powerful, so we are going to provide the knowledge it takes to operate efficiently and effectively in a capitalistic society.

“Whereas other banks may look at an individual’s credit worthiness and then close the door on them, our bank will seek to help individuals rebuild their credit rating.

We will teach them how to handle finances, how to invest and general information on finances. Our bank will be committed to serving everyone regardless of race,

age, sex, religion, marital status, handicapped status, nationality or ethnic background.”

There are a number of minority-owned banks in the country, and those numbers may increase as the demographics shift towards an increasingly diverse population.

America is becoming more and more multi-cultural, Golden said, and institutions need to change to reflect that fact by being more accommodating to those who are of

different races and cultures.

In addition to better serving minorities, Golden says a minority bank on the Coast would open up opportunities for businesses and stimulate the economy.

“And I believe it would also help other banks to be more accommodating than they are to the African-American community,” Golden said. “If they have someone else

out there who is willing to do what they aren’t willing to do, it may open up their eyes to see that we don’t have to depend upon them. We have been taken for granted

because we had nowhere else to go.”

However, Golden said the purpose of chartering the new bank isn’t to indict anyone for past behavior, but instead focus on building resources for the Coast’s minority

community. He said they aren’t discouraged it has taken five years to raise half the money needed to charter the bank.

“Rome was not built in a day,” he said. “Neither can you build something of this magnitude in a short period of time. The progress has been slow and painful, but

having a million dollars certainly shows there has been growth. We hope it won’t take another five years, but we are determined to get it done.”

Golden’s wife, Gulfport attorney La Quetta Golden, who is also a representative of the minority banking group, said that after capital is in place, organizers will begin

looking for a location and name, and hire qualified professionals to run the bank.

“We’re going to raise the money and then turn it over to bankers,” she said. “We don’t want to be bankers. We’re working people doing this in our spare time to help

the community.”

The group which meets once a month also includes the following representatives: Tom Blackwell, an employee at Litton Ship Systems Full Service Center in

Pascagoula; James Burks, Gulfport, U.S. Air Force; Frankie Burks, writer; Clauzell Tunstall and Betty Sanford, health care professionals; Luther Hayes, retired; Rod

Colom, construction contractor; and Ethel Shaw, beauty salon owner.

Anyone who wants to support the bank can contract the law offices of La Quetta Golden at (228) 863-3152 or contact one of the other members of the banking

group. The address for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Minority Banking Group, Inc. is P.O. Box 4053, Gulfport MS 39502-4053.

Contact MBJ staff writer Becky Gillette at mullein@datasync.com or (228) 872-3457.

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