Jesse Williams Says Black-Owned Greenwood Bank’s Mission ‘Made Sense’

Greenwood Bank Commercial (Credit: YouTube)

Actor and activist Jesse Williams is partnering with Greenwood, a new digital bank co-founded by former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, Michael Render aka rapper Killer Mike, and media executive Ryan Glover.

Its founders describe Greenwood as “the first digital banking platform for Black and Latinx people.”

The Black-owned financial institution’s name is inspired by the historic Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, known as the “Black Wall Street” before it was burned down by a white mob in 1921.

During a virtual news conference to announce his involvement as an investor, Williams said joining the bank felt right.

“I looked up to my brother [Killer] Mike for a long time. So the assembly made sense, the mission was clear and I really appreciated that it dove, leaned right into historical context,” Williams explained.

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Greenwood Bank was founded by Michael Render, Andrew Young and Ryan Glover. (Credit: Greenwood)
Greenwood was founded by Michael Render, Andrew Young and Ryan Glover. (Credit: Greenwood)

The Grey’s Anatomy actor also stars in a new commercial for Greenwood, which was shot in Inglewood, California, including at a coffee shop co-owned by actress and producer Issa Rae.

Williams has long been an activist, bringing attention to civil rights issues and police brutality.

In 2014, he marched with protesters in Missouri following the fatal police shooting of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown.

Two years later, Williams made an impassioned speech condemning police brutality as he accepted the Humanitarian Award at the 2016 BET Awards.

“If you have no interest in equal rights for Black people, then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down,” he said as the audience gave him a standing ovation.

Later that same year, NPR reported that Williams had launched two mobile apps of his own, and produced two documentaries, one about Black Lives Matter and the second about the controversial school-to-prison system.

Related Story: Black Artists Call for Movie, TV & Music Industries to ‘Break Ties’ With Police

At the news conference, Williams said Greenwood will focus on customer service.

“We’re being practical. We’re not biting off more than we can chew. We’re focused on you getting your check, you having no hidden fees, you having access to your money, wherever you are,” he said.

Greenwood was announced in October, after its founders raised more than $3 million in seed funding.

The bank’s leaders say Greenwood plans to contribute to the community through “Greenwood Gives Back,” by providing five meals to a food insecure family when an account is opened. They also plan to make a donation to the UNCF, Goodr, or the NAACP every time a customer swipes a Greenwood debit card. The bank additionally says it will distribute grants to a Black or Latinx small business owner that is a Greenwood customer, and they plan to work with brick and mortar minority-owned banks.

Greenwood is expected to officially open in January. Watch the commercial starring Jesse Williams below.

Anita Bennett contributed to this report.

YouTube video