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Gabelli100 | Oct 15, 2020 |

Shennette Garrett-Scott: How Women used Investing to Build Community & Fight Inequality in 1920s Harlem

In a lively Centennial Speaker Series’ webinar, co-sponsored by the Museum of American Finance and the CFA Society of New York, professor and historian Shennette Garrett-Scott painted an animated picture of Harlem in the roaring 1920s and explained how two African American women built a thriving financial enterprise in the heart of it.

Describing the St. Luke Finance Corporation and the women who rebuilt it after its fall in 1916, Garrett-Scott illustrated how African American women have historically used financial institutions to not only create new wealth, but to challenge sexism, racial inequality, and economic exploitation.

The story is one of many covered in Garrett-Scott’s book, Freedom: Black Women in U.S. Finance Before the New Deal, about African American women who recognized the power of investment to create opportunities for employment and housing in their communities and to shape the broader meaning of wealth, risk, and opportunity.

“Looking at the St. Luke Finance Corporation,” Garrett-Scott said, “we see investment as a form of community and institution-building, but also of protest and resistance, just like the labor strike or the boycott. In powerful ways, black women tried to transform racial capitalism through a woman-centered articulation of black economic self-determination.”

 

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