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City Survey: Memphis

This city, known for blues and rock ‘n’ roll, has some amazing Better Banking Options.

Memphis is best known for being a city of immense significance and culture within the Southern region of the United States. Founded in 1819 by future president Andrew Jackson, it served as an economic hub for the South before, during, and after the Civil War. Memphis is probably best known for being the birthplace of Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll, as 24 of the 97 inductees to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame come from Memphis or the surrounding area.

Although there has always been a large Black population in Memphis, since the 1950s the proportion of residents who are Black has steadily grown, going from 37% of the total populace to today’s 64%, as white residents moved to suburbs outside the metropolitan area. Black families in Memphis have been financially constrained by institutional racism, such as the redlining imposed in most U.S. cities. As a result of these and many other circumstances, the median income of households in Memphis is much lower than most metropolitan areas in the country.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to not only invest in Better Banking Options making quality loans in the Memphis area, but to specifically put our money in Black banks and credit unions that will circulate the money in communities that can benefit from it most.

Memphis has several excellent Black credit unions and banks which go out of their way to make quality loans to Black families and in Black neighborhoods.

- Hope Credit Union – This Better Banking Option is one of our favorite banking institutions to recommend. They have widespread network and resources, modern online technologies and a stellar reputation for investing in at-risk communities to foster real economic growth. They started out working in the Mississippi delta, partnering with struggling, existing banks and credit unions in towns with few lending options besides predatory payday loans. Although they began in rural areas, they’ve grown tremendously and since proven their commitment to disinvested and isolated urban neighborhoods as well. They have three branches in Memphis and one in West Memphis, Arkansas. They’re a CDFI, a Black-majority Minority Depository Institution (MDI), and score the best in our metric when you look up Memphis in our search engine.

- Orion Federal Credit Union - Orion Federal Credit Union has been working in Memphis for more than 60 years to provide excellent banking services and loans to their members. Originally a teacher’s credit union, they now have 10 branches in Memphis and one in Little Rock, Arkansas. They’ve earned both LICU and CDFI designations, meaning a significant chunk of their money is loaned to low-income families, specifically for the purpose of community development in the places they work. While they’re not a Black MDI, they are a great local option for those who live in Memphis.

- Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Co. - Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Co. is an undeniably important bank simply because they are the black-led bank in the country with the longest uninterrupted history, being in operation since 1904. They started with just $1,000 in assets, collected from community leaders who founded the bank, yet were able to survive the Great Depression and steadily grow their assets into the $100 million they have today. Citizens Savings Bank and Trust is a CDFI as well as an MDI, with nearly 40% of their assets going to small business lending. They have three locations, two in Nashville and one in Memphis, and prioritize personalized customer service.

In the wake of the wave of protests last summer for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, we can’t forget to make an effort to invest in Black communities in whatever ways we can. Memphis is a city whose Black artists have influenced modern music more than we can know, something almost all of us get enjoyment out of. It’s time for white people in particular to give back by investing money in work that helps close the racial wealth gap.

While everyone must be making efforts in every area of our lives to work for racial justice, a great way to invest in Black communities is to move our money to bank that does so.

Even if you can’t find a bank among this list that fits your particular banking needs, just look up Memphis in our search engine and there is long list of local Better Banking Options which contribute to the overall economic health of the city. Additionally, even if you don’t live in Memphis, many of the banks listed above offer both online and mobile banking options. We encourage you to make a difference with your deposits and move your money today!


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