The Evolution of the West’s only Black Bank

Broadway Federal Bank President and CEO Wayne-Kent Bradshaw.

Photo credit: Broadway Federal Bank.

Wayne-Kent Bradshaw, president and CEO of Broadway Federal Bank, discusses how the institution has changed over the past 70-plus years -- and why that can be hard to talk about.

Walking along Wilshire Boulevard in Mid-City, it’s easy to miss the narrow window sign that says “Broadway Federal Bank” in green letters. But despite its unassuming appearance, this small bank is one of LA’s most historically significant financial institutions. Founded more than 70 years ago to serve the region’s African American community, it currently stands as the only black-owned bank headquartered in the Western U.S.

Over the past several decades, however, Broadway’s business model has shifted away from focusing specifically on black customers. “That makes it very hard for me to talk about what we do,” said Broadway President and CEO Wayne-Kent Bradshaw during a recent interview. On the one hand, he said, he wants to avoid pigeonholing Broadway as a “black bank” because its clientele has diversified. On the other, he’s wary of coming off like he’s rejecting or ignoring the bank’s history.

“We’re very proud of [what we do],” Bradshaw said, “but it doesn’t fit into the image of, ‘so what are you doing for the community, or what are you doing for your blackness?’ But I also know that when someone thinks about Broadway they say, ‘oh yeah, Broadway is your traditional black bank.’”

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