For some, the fight for social equality is moving to a new battleground: the banking sector.
In the midst of a national debate about how to address police brutality and economic inequality, a quiet shift has taken place. Participants in a nationwide movement to deploy African-American spending power in a more targeted fashion have funneled deposits into black-owned banks across the country. Dubbed the "Bank Black" campaign, proponents have called for using black wealth to create positive change in an increasingly fractured society.
"There is an awakening for the black community to utilize our $1.2 trillion in annual spending power to create jobs and build wealth in our community," Teri Williams, president and COO of One United Bank, told CNBC in a recent interview. One United has the dual distinction of being both the largest black-owned bank, and the first black internet bank in the country.
The number of banks catering to African-American clientele has declined in recent years, down from 48 in 2001 to 23 out of the more than 6,000 FDIC-insured banks in the U.S. Boston-based One United uses a mix of technology and customer service to attract customers to its web banking services, as well as its nine branches located in California, Florida and Massachusetts.
"We know the importance of online and mobile banking include the expectations that millennials and beyond expect from their banks," Williams said. Dismissing the idea that institutions owned by people of color are less established or inherently risky, Williams told CNBC that "there is no risk to banking black."
Overall, some 156 U.S.-based minority-owned banks collectively hold $131 billion in assets, according to FDIC data, with black-owned banks holding approximately $4.7 billion in assets. However, those figures pale in comparison with the leading commercial banking giants like JPMorgan Chase, which holds more than $2 trillion.