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Thu, 06.02.2005

Wachovia Bank Acknowledges Its Slavery Past

*On this date in 2005, Wachovia Bank became another financial contractor to acknowledge past ties to slavery.

The New York-based bank disclosed in a filing with the city of Chicago, which two years ago passed an ordinance requiring companies that do business with the city to research their history to determine any links to slavery. Wachovia spokeswoman Carrie Ruddy said the bank undertook its research because it works with the city of Chicago to rejuvenate public housing there.

After initially denying ties to slavery in January, executives at Wachovia Bank disclosed in a June 2 report that the bank's predecessor institutions, the Bank of Charleston, S.C., and the Georgia Railroad and Banking Company. Two predecessor banks of Wachovia Corp. owned slaves before the American Civil War, the nation's fourth-largest bank said Wednesday as it apologized to black Americans. Wachovia chairman Ken Thompson said, "We are deeply saddened by these findings."

The Charlotte-based company said it contracted earlier this year with The History Factory, a historical research firm, to investigate the predecessor institutions that have become part of what is now called Wachovia over the years. The decision came amid a welter of local and legislative initiatives requiring banks and other companies to investigate their pasts regarding slavery. Thompson said the research revealed two traditional banks, the Bank of Charleston (S.C.) and the Georgia Railroad and Banking Company owned slaves.

The bank said incomplete records make it impossible to know how many slaves were owned by either institution. Still, those specific transactional records show the Georgia bank owned at least 162 slaves, and the Bank of Charleston accepted at least 529 slaves as collateral on mortgaged properties or loans.

New Poem Each Day

Poetry Corner

I said: Now will the poet sing,- Their cries go thundering Like blood and tears Into the nation’s ears, Like lightning dart Into the nation’s heart. Against disease and death and all things fell, And war, Their strophes... SCOTTSBORO, TOO, IS WORTH IT’S SONG by Countee Cullen.
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