Tri-State Bank of Memphis to be acquired by Liberty Bank & Trust of New Orleans
MEMPHIS, Tennessee (WMC) – The Tri-State Bank of Memphis has been around since the 1940s, serving as a financial lifeline for many African Americans.
One of their biggest supporters then and still today is the Black Church.
Mount. Olive CME Church in South Memphis has done business with Tri-State for decades.
âIn fact, since the inception of Tri-State, Mt. Olive has been one of the earliest churches,â said Pastor Peris J. Lester
It is a tradition within the Christian Methodist Church and countless other places of worship and black organizations across the city.
âSeveral times during the period of segregation we were unable to obtain loans for our churches and for our parishioners who needed housing,â said CME Bishop Henry Williamson.
The Tri-State Bank of Memphis was founded in 1946 by Dr. Joseph E. Walker and his son A. Maceo Walker.
For many Mid-South blacks, Tri-State was their only hope of owning a home or business. However, in recent years, the Tri-State Bank of Memphis has faced difficult times. As a small community bank, it has been difficult to keep up with the ever-changing and very expensive banking technology.
âSo it really became a matter of scale and we realized that we either had to grow and grow considerably, or partner with other institutions,â said the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Tri-State, Archie Willis, III.
He says that even though the bank hired non-minority banking partners, such as First Tennessee, Tri-State Bank has always remained a majority black bank and they wanted to remain so.
âSo you still have a lot of mistrust in the African American community of banking in general, and you also have the situation where the regulatory environment, the credit environment, whatever the banks are looking at does. It’s not necessarily about the sensitivity when dealing with African Americans, âsaid Willis.
Last week it was announced that the Tri-State Bank of Memphis would be acquired by Liberty Bank and Trust Company in an all-cash transaction.
Liberty is also a New Orleans-based minority bank.
âIt’s bittersweet to lose the name Tri-State, but that’s the function of the black bank that with Liberty. We did research to make it stronger with the merger of two black banks. In fact, more loans, more services can be provided, âsaid Williamson.
We are also told that all Tri-State Bank employees will be offered their jobs even after the merger, which is expected to take place by the end of the year.
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