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Welcome to Conference

They are always with us

By Damon Kirk

When I stepped out this morning I saw leaves dancing, spirals of color dancing in the wind. It was a fall morning like this, in October 1916, when Anthony Crawford stepped onto his land, some he had inherited, some he had purchased, with plans to build a cotton business. Anthony was what you’d call a people person, committed to helping others. Word spread in his hometown of Abbeville, South Carolina, of his efforts to help Black people secure loans so they could pursue their own dreams of owning a home or starting a business.

When I stepped out this morning, I remembered Anthony, a brother cut down in his prime, lynched by a mob that stripped his family of his hard-earned assets.

When I stepped out this morning, I remembered Thomas Moss, Calvin McDowell, William Stewart, O.B. Mann and Dick Rowland.

Thomas Moss built the People’s Grocery, a thriving business in Memphis, Tennessee in 1892. He and his employees, Calvin McDowell and William Stewart, cut down in their prime, are memorialized by Ida B. Wells, who recorded Moss’s last words: “Tell my people to go West, there is no justice here.”

O.B. Mann, a WWII veteran and co-owner of Mann’s Grocery Store in the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Oklahoma, led a courageous fight to defend Dick Rowland, a Black man who was incarcerated, after stumbling and accidentally touching a white woman, and facing certain death. Mann and his followers were outnumbered but fought on, as homes and businesses were looted and destroyed in what is now remembered as the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.

All five men were successful in providing financial access to the Black community. All five died on the sword.

We open this column, “Now Starring,” with the true stars of our journey, the brave men and women on whose shoulders we stand. They are always with us.

Damon Kirk, CEO, Obsidian Banking

I founded Obsidian because I noticed the general distrust the big banks have amongst my demographic. We built a product that will encompass everything you’ve come to expect in a Fintech application, with the trust and relatability that has often lacked.