Jesse Binga

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Jesse Binga was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1865. He moved to Chicago to start a bank in 1908. The bank was made primarily for African-Americans, since during that time many banks would not allow African-Americans in. The Great Migration came, and Binga State Bank grew more popular. Jesse Binga grew to be a rich man and eventually he and his wife bought a house at 5922 South Park Avenue, which is now known as King Drive, which was a strictly white neighborhood, and his house was bombed five different times by racist neighbors.[1]

In 1929 the Great Depression hit, and Binga Bank was forced to close. Then bank examiners said that Binga State Bank was run illegally and Jesse Binga was sent to jail on a ten-year sentence. After a few years Binga was released thanks to many protests and petitions. Binga was given a $15 a week job as a janitor at St. Anselm's Church. He died at age 85.

Jesse Binga was once one of the richest men of his time, but when the depression hit he lost everything and died as a poor man in June 1950.

Binga was an honorary member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

The Binga Bank[edit]

The Binga Bank was originally a private bank, but when the Great Migration in the 1900s came, the Binga Bank was opened to become a public bank. The Binga Bank treated all African-Americans like Caucasians were treated in other banks, because African-Americans could not get as much out of those banks as Caucasians could.

The bank was located at the corner of 35th and State Street in Chicago, and many African-Americans used it. A Binga Arcade was opened in 1929, which held offices, stores, and even a dance floor. When the Depression hit, the banks assets were too heavily invested in mortgage loans to black churches and fraternal societies, many of which could not meet their payments after their members lost their jobs. Binga refused to seize the properties of these community institutions. He was sentenced to prison in 1932 for misuse-of-funds.


  1. ^ Will Cooley, “Moving On Out: Black Pioneering in Chicago, 1915-1950,” Journal of Urban History 36:4 (July 2010), 485-506.
  • Lash, Nicholas A. (2005) Black-owned banks: A survey of the issues. Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship Vol. 10, No. 2 187–202.

D Hine. W. Hine, S. Harrold The African American Odyssey