By Ashley Benkarski
NASHVILLE, TN — An old story with a new beginning—That’s how Richard Manson, board member of Citizens Savings Bank & Trust, described the institution’s entry into the new year.
“They were oases in an economic desert of delays, denials, and dead ends,” the Community Investment Fund of Middle Tennessee (CFMT) described of minority-owned banks, which were often the only avenue for nonwhite people to get a loan for their small businesses.
As with any story, the journey of Citizens Bank was imbued with highs and lows.
Founded in 1904 as the One Cent Savings Bank, the nation’s oldest operating minority-owned bank is surviving and thriving in the face of incredible odds that many peer institutions did not.
“Citizens Bank remains the city’s lone minority owned bank, with two offices in Nashville and one in Memphis. It continues today as the only minority-owned bank operating in Nashville,” the CFMT website states.
Citizens Bank’s original charter described its mission as “to encourage frugality and systematic savings among our people, to secure the safekeeping and proper investment of such savings, and to set in motion business enterprise.”
Manson, an attorney and the president of Brentwood-based medical and surgical supply company SourceMark, is the bank’s Chair of the Board of Directors.
The bank recently added three new members to its Board of Directors: Ms. Jacky Akbari, Ms. Julie Lilliston, and Mr. Charles Sueing, which Manson said would be key to the bank’s continued success moving forward. All three additions bring a well-rounded wealth of knowledge and experience, from strategic consultation to communications to insurance.
Further, CFMT states that the “Morris Memorial Building, built in the 1920s for the National Baptist Convention’s Sunday School Publishing Board, housed Citizens Bank from 1974-85. Designed by the architectural firm McKissack & McKissack, it’s the only building still standing that is originally associated with African American businesses in the Downtown Nashville core.”