J.P. Morgn Chase & Co. made headlines in January when it issued an apology on its Web site. After conducting extensive research, the financial institution discovered two of its now-defunct predecessor banks--Citizens Bank and Canal Bank, both based in Louisiana--had allowed its customers to use slaves as collateral on loans between the 1830s and the Civil War.
The statement, signed by CEO William B. Harrison and COO Jamie Dimon, said J.P. Morgan was sorry for contributing to a "brutal and unjust institution" and outlined how it planned to repair the damage. But it wasn't out of the kindness of its heart that the New York-based company owned up to its past involvement with slavery. The impetus was the city of Chicago.
As a part of its effort to make amends, the bank announced it would implement a scholarship fund called Smart Start Louisiana. The company will provide $5 million over five years for full-tuition undergraduate scholarships to African-American students from Louisiana to attend college in the state. It will also offer those students summer internships and possibilities for employment upon graduation.
For the most part, the Chicago community is lauding J.P. Morgan for its disclosure.