Earlier this month, Michael “Killer Mike” Render aligned with former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young and Bounce TV founder Ryan Glover to launch the Greenwood banking platform. The online service specifically targets members of the Black and Latinx communities.
This week, Killer Mike appeared on the cable news show MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle to discuss starting Greenwood. He also spoke about the connection between social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter and attaining wealth in America.
“You can’t have social justice without social equality. And in a capitalistic society, if those who capitalism was built on bear the sins of people who been enslaved here and the people who are being used as cheap labor now, if those people don’t get an active role in capitalism or the opportunity to participate, then what are we left with but a permanent underclass? So I believe that part of social justice is making sure that economic justice happens,” explained the Atlanta-raised activist.
When asked to talk about the 1921 Tulsa race massacre that destroyed the Greenwood District, also known as “Black Wall Street,” Killer Mike said, “There have been many tragic stains on American history in relation to the group of people called Blacks in America. And this is one of them that I think is curable and fixable.”
The 45-year-old entrepreneur went on to describe the economically and socially thriving Greenwood community before racist white residents murdered as many as 300 Black residents and burned down millions of dollars worth of property. Mike then made the case that the Black community should organize its money through banking institutions that can provide African-Americans with car loans, home loans, and small-business loans. He pointed to his hometown as a symbol of how collective economics can impact a community.
“I give Atlanta as an example. We don’t have a mayor like Kasim Reed, our last mayor before Keisha Bottoms, we never get to do a land deal that allows Tyler Perry to have one of the biggest studios in the world. That not only kept Black people working but kept all Georgians working as the movie industry seems to be moving to Georgia and Atlanta,” said Killer Mike.
He continued, “If we don’t have Mayor [Maynard] Jackson 40 years ago, who said Blacks have to be 29 and 30% of business contracts of the city, we never get [Herman Russell’s H. J. Russell & Company]. We never get The Columbia Group, which is headed by Noel Khalil, who ended up partnering with T.I. and I to keep a 50-year-old restaurant like Bankhead Seafood open and which employs people and will be employing more. So these things are one hand washes the other and I think they’re necessary. And I think Greenwood is providing a pathway to that.”