The Fierce Urgency of Now: Juneteenth 2020

JUNE 19, 2020 | IN ECONOMIC EQUALITY | BY WOLE COAXUM

 

Texas weather in June can be dangerously hot. The warm, humid air that sometimes portends a hurricane brewing in the Gulf waters can leave one retreating for a spot cooled by central air conditioning or a big box fan off a screened porch. I can only imagine what it was like for enslaved Africans on June 19th, 1865, who had been working cotton harvests under the watchful eyes of overseers and plantation owners when Union soldiers arrived on this thin stretch of land bearing news of their freedom. I’m sure that it was difficult for them to conceive of how they had been free for two-and-one-half years because their only time markers were Christmas, Sundays, and harvest seasons. Yet, here were liberators, newly arrived and carrying news that was only spoken of in whispers and quiet prayers. This was the genesis of what is now celebrated as Juneteenth, an annual ‘jubilation,’ recalling that time when Major General Gordon Granger read aloud General Order No. 3, proclaiming the freedom of all slaves in the Lone Star state.  

 

This year’s Juneteenth celebration bears great significance for American descendants of slavery.  155 years later, our humanity and equality are still being challenged. As a result of the loss of Black lives at the hands of those who have been sworn to protect and serve, the world has witnessed unprecedented outcries and uprisings. The community activism that began in Minneapolis, Minnesota — the site of the death of George Floyd — has touched every state in the union and made its way across four continents. From Bristol, England — where the statue of a slave trader was toppled, to the US Congress which voted to rename military bases named after confederate leaders — the world is experiencing a great reckoning in the year whose numbers represent perfect vision. 

 

But what happens once the protests are over and the diverse community of activists has returned to their homes? How will this broad coalition use this opportunity to propel the black agenda forward in areas beyond social and criminal justice interests?  

 

Interestingly, after Major General Granger read the Order, the reaction of the newly freed residents was mixed.  Some former slaves stayed with their masters and continued working as if nothing had changed, some left immediately to find kidnapped loved ones, and others remained in Texas and sought the benefits that their new status bestowed upon them. 

 

Today, more than seven score and fifteen years after this moment of jubilation, economic slavery persists for African Americans. 

 

We still labor under an economic regime that undervalues African Americans’ contributions to society despite our buying power that rivals the GDP of some nations. Consider these essential facts: Black people spend 50% more on banking services than their white counterparts;  Black people experience a $158bn gap in real estate value compared to their white counterparts; Black Americans can expect to earn up to $1 million less than white Americans over their lifetimes; and, by 2030 the average Black family will have zero net worth.  This is not what our ancestors imagined or fought for as they made their way in the post Emancipation world.  It is not the world MoCaFi wants for our community.

 

This Juneteenth, MoCaFi is revealing the Summer 2020 release of a revolutionary banking platform that seeks to move the wheels of financial inequality in the Black community towards fairness, affordability, and inclusion — The MoCaFi Mobility Bank Account. 

 

The MoCaFi Account comes with a MoCaFi Mobility Debit Mastercard® where customers access no charge ATM withdrawals, options on how to load your funds, and make purchases everywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted. MoCaFi gets paid by our partners in the network to build the best financial relationship with our customers. 

 

MoCaFi Debit Card funds will be FDIC insured provided the card is registered to the name of the primary cardholder.  When you open a MoCaFi Account, your account number and routing number are immediately available for direct depositing approved payroll and government benefits checks.  This is especially helpful for individuals who are still waiting to receive their $1,200 from the CARES Act.  

 

If you’re a renter, you probably aren’t getting the credit score benefit of paying your highest and most significant expense every month.  There’s no incentive for your landlord to report — until you miss a payment.  Pay rent from funds on your MoCaFi Mobility Bank Account and opt-in to have those payments reported to Equifax and TransUnion as a tool for building your credit score6.  We provide you with free access to your VantageScore by Equifax as a tool to track how your credit profile changes over time7. Ensuring that people’s credit score reflects who they are instead of where they live is an important component of MoCaFi’s mission. 

 

Unlike the original Juneteenth, Black people already know that economic freedom is a possibility and must be made available for all of us. In a post-George Floyd era, a social justice agenda without an economic justice agenda is like one hand clapping. It’s time for us to come together with a standing ovation – for social justice, liberty, and economic equality.  We CAN create a society that ensures a disproportionate number of Black Women entrepreneurs create multi-billion dollar enterprises. We CAN develop a new financial architecture that rewards everyone fairly for the value that they create and contribute.  We CAN live in a country that seeks to maximize the capacity and capabilities of all people – especially Black people.  Our nation will be more reliable and competitive because it will have the full participation of all our residents. That will be a cause for jubilation. 


  1.  “It’s in the Bag: Black Consumers’ Path to Purchase”, Diverse Intelligence Series 2019, Nielsen 
  2.  Survey:  While checking fees vary wildly by race and age, Americans stay loyal to their banks
  3.  Perry, Andre M., Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities, Brookings Institution Press, May 19, 2020.
  4.  “Nine charts about wealth inequality in America (updated),” Urban Institute, October 5, 2017, urban.org
  5.  Prosperity Now. The Road to Zero Wealth: How the Racial Wealth Divide is Hollowing Out America’s Middle Class. Institute for Policy Studies, 2017.
  6. Rental Payment Reporting is not a Sunrise Banks N.A. product, nor does Sunrise Banks N.A. endorse this feature
  7. VantageScore Tracker is not a Sunrise Banks N.A. product, nor does Sunrise Banks N.A. endorse this feature

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