A call from Atlanta rapper and activist Killer Mike for African-Americans to speak with their dollars in protest of police violence has produced some real results all over the country—including at Durham-based Mechanics & Farmers Bank.
"Social media is very powerful," says Mechanics & Farmers Bank president and CEO Jim Sills. "It's effectively getting the word out to consumers all across the country."
On July 8, Killer Mike was a guest for a town hall special that aired on MTV and BET, to address the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Philando Castile in Minnesota, and five police officers in Dallas.
"We can't go out in the street and start bombing, shooting, and killing," Mike said. "I encourage none of us to engage in acts of violence. I encourage to take our warfare to financial institutions."
His war plan is for one million people to deposit at least $100 in a small, black-owned bank. In turn, he said, those banks could extend loans to people who might otherwise be refused by large institutions.
The plan was launched with the hashtag #BankBlackBankSmallBankLocal, which, despite its length, caught on nationwide. In Killer Mike's hometown, Citizens Trust reported eight thousand new sign-ups.
Mechanics & Farmers Bank is feeling some love, too. BlackMainStreet.net reported M&F recently opened $1.25 million in new accounts.
Sills told the INDY Tuesday that he hasn't seen "the number that's quoted out there in the media." He also wouldn't disclose how many new people have opened accounts. But he will say this: business has been good.
"We have definitely seen a surge in new account activity, in all of our markets over the past seven or eight days," says Sills. Mechanics & Farmers Bank has branches in Durham, Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem.
"I think it's really healthy to recycle dollars back into the community," he continues. "Our bank has been in existence for one hundred and nine years, and that was one of the principal pillars of this bank when it was founded."