USB Chief Diversity Officer Greg Cunningham and Slauson-Crenshaw Branch Manager Anita Shaw pose by the mural on the outside of the building. (Rodd A. Amos/L.A. Sentinel)

Destination Crenshaw joined U.S. Bank in celebration of the grand opening of its newly renovated Slauson-Crenshaw Black Heritage Community Bank branch with a community block party in honor of Black History Month.

An estimated crowd of 200 community members joined local artists, community advocates, and businesses on Feb. 17 under cloudy skies to help place a cultural stamp of Blackness on the Crenshaw Corridor — a stamp akin to other ethnic enclaves in L.A. such as Chinatown, Mariachi Plaza, and Little Tokyo.

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“I’m excited to know that our company has been one to recognize the role that we can play in addressing economic disparities and helping to build wealth,” said Marcus Brown, Black Segment Lead of US Bank’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team.

Slauson-Crenshaw branch officials at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Rodd A. Amos/L.A. Sentinel)

“What better way to do that than to ensure that our branch, which is squarely rooted in this community, can continue serving as a partner in people’s financial journey in building wealth? That’s why it’s important to have a branch of this caliber in the Crenshaw neighborhood,” he said.

The celebration raised awareness for Destination Crenshaw’s innovative place-keeping initiative to revitalize an area hard-hit by decades of disinvestment, inspiring Angelenos to support local Black-owned businesses year-round. The cultural infrastructure and workforce development project was created to dramatically repair, revitalize, and sustain the Crenshaw Corridor — the most iconic Black business corridor in L.A. and on the west coast.

Marcus Brown, DEI Team Lead, and Demetria Richburg, DEI Women’s Segment Lead. (Rodd A. Amos/L.A. Sentinel)

“We’re celebrating progress,” said Jason Foster, Destination Crenshaw president and CEO. “Last year, we began working with the Rocking the Nation crew on revitalizing the Crenshaw Wall mural to show us their reinterpretation of what our future could be in the Crenshaw community.

“And today we’re celebrating with US Bank on their intentional investment on the corridor, turning their community room into a space that the community can access for the purpose of building up what already exists inside of Crenshaw. I may run DC, but I’m also a resident. Everything that we are doing is vitally important to me and my family, and that’s how we participate in our activities,” he said.

Kelly O’Dell from US Bank and Eric Clay from Operation HOPE. (Rodd A. Amos/L.A. Sentinel) 

US Bank Chief Diversity Officer Greg Cunningham stated, “I firmly believe that the real business case for diversity is inclusive growth. That means opportunity for everyone. Wealth disparities in this country, and the racial wealth gap, is a drag on every single American’s household income.

“When I think about diversity, equity and inclusion, I think of what Dr. [Martin Luther] King said: ‘There is no separation between social justice and economic justice. You can’t have one without the other.’ US Bank has focused its efforts on closing wealth disparities by creating access to opportunity, small business capital, financial literacy, and financial advising,” he said.

US Bank is the fifth largest banking institution in the US and invests in the revitalization of the Crenshaw District.

Jason Foster, president of Destination Crenshaw, with Delphine Pruitt, vice president of US Bank Business Affairs. (Rodd A. Amos/L.A. Sentinel)