By Paul Cobb
John Collins wants all Americans, especially Blacks, to commemorate March 3 this year: “Everybody should research the Freedman’s Bank, which was founded March 3, 1865. Congress backed the bank as a safe haven for former slaves to deposit their savings and small treasures.”
Collins, a numismatist, historian, Buffalo Soldier, inventor and minister, had collected rare civil war era currency and begun research for his book about what happened to the millions of dollars of freed Blacks’ money when he heard on March 3, 2001 that a Black Mormon, Darius Gray, and White Mormon, Marie Taylor, had initiated automating the Freedman’s Bank records.
“What a courageous effort by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to digitize a significant portion of names of our ancestors,” said Collins. “They were focusing on bank books. I was focusing on what happened to the money and why Congress didn’t fulfill the promise to the former slaves.”
“If all the other denominations would do something similar, it would help me and the Post News Group complete the story of what happened to the money. That would help us repair this nation’s history,” Collins continued.
Collins is a retired pastor in the same church that had Sojourner Truth as a member, the Seventh-day Adventist Church. She met with President Lincoln to discuss the needs of African Americans.
When Collins saw a slave on a hundred dollar bank note issued by the city of Montgomery, Alabama, he began his research into slave images on Confederate and US currency and coins.
He discovered that Frederick Douglass was made president of the bank and asked to give $10,000 of his money to bail out the white Congresspersons and philanthropists that had made bad loans to white businesses and did not collect on the unpaid loans.
Collins’ book will reveal the genesis of the term “window-dressing,” which was used to describe how illiterate blacks were hired to sit in the window and behind desks to help convince other Blacks that the bank was trustworthy.
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