Charles Banks, the subject of this appealing biography was a seemingly well-known Black leader, like such as Obama Baraka and Jessie Jackson. Banks status, demeanor, and power were unlimited, way beyond his hometown of Clarksdale and Mound Bayou, Mississippi all-black towns. Born in 1873, in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Banks spent most of is life in this well known racially discriminating and violent town. These afflictions of Clarksdale motivated him, so much to the point that he wanted to become an advocate to help his community, in the process he became a successful entrepreneur.
This book brilliantly explores the achievement of Banks with proficiency and a clear-cut style. After reading this biography I came to the conclusion that this book essentially depicts the limits of Blacks during the era of white dominance, and how a man and his “army”, Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Machine that supported Banks and Mound Bayou, were able to battle and defeat whites wanting to run and prosper from the black community.
Together, this story suggest a convincing and thought through picture of a black civic leader seeking resources for the Mound Bayou community, all in an effort to find freedom for Mound Bayou but on there own terms. Mr. Banks himself; he was the premier fighter for equal opportunity of black’s especially in Mound Bayou. He fought for the blacks of Mound Bayou, for them to be able to maintain their towns self sufficiency despite their monoculture, which mainly depended on the cotton they grew and the white businessmen who sold it. A second ingredient would be Booker T. Washington.
After Banks met Washington at an inaugural meeting of the National Negro Business League, Banks impressed Washington with his business suave, Washington immediately placed Banks as his trusted correspondent. Washington and his secretary, Emmett Scott, relied upon Banks for information about Mississippi affairs. Through Banks newfound connection to Booker T. , Banks was able to obtain affluent connections and financial aid for Mound Bayou. Banks’ seemed most well-known for his financial comings and goings, but mainly for his investment in the Mound Bayou Oil Mill and the Bank of Mound Bayou.
As a founder of the Bank of Mound Bayou, Banks ensured his town residents could invest in their own community by borrowing in a neighborhood bank. When the bank failed, white banks raised interest rates and required black farmers in the community to bring their cotton to gins owned by whites. This was costly to the community. One year after the bank failed, Banks helped to create a new Mound Bayou State Bank that met with state requirements and struggled to pay off investors from its earlier debts. Closely intertwined with the bank was Banks’ next greatest adventure, the Mound Bayou Oil Mill.
Banks designed the cotton oil mill as an all-black enterprise that brought in modest investments of African American families who could purchase shares at one dollar apiece. The careful Banks reconstructed his financial dealings, and his desperate efforts to keep both bank and mill in the money, showed how easily broken the black business was. Although generally convincing, Jackson’s argument in the biography and overall could be improved. I felt this book did not stay on topic. Jackson novel was to be about the affluent Mr.
Banks and all of the good or bad that came with his endeavors. He seemed to be protective of Banks image which lead to my belief that important historical facts were left out. Also, this biography put a lot of influence on Tuskegee and Booker T. Washington, though they are important parts of the thread that puts the quilt together, they are not overall essential to Banks existence and cause. I did however enjoy how the biography was put together it seemed to be three stories woven together but created something unique and masterful.