Mechanics and Farmers Bank
The bank opened for business in 1907 in Durham, NC. Its nine founders were active community builders and were involved in establishing numerous other institutions and organizations that formed the nucleus of a thriving business and residential district, anchored by what became known as "the Black Wall Street."
In 2007 Mechanics and Farmers Bank celebrated its centennial anniversary: 100 years of surmounting difficulties and spawning an independent black commercial, social, and political base in the community it served. The nine founders were visionary men, determined to lift up themselves and the black community in which they lived. The nine men were R. B. Fitzgerald, J. A. Dodson, J. R. Hawkins, John Merrick, Aaron M. Moore, W.G. Pearson, James E. Shepard, G. W. Stephens, and Stanford L. Warren.
Since there were few opportunities for black businesses to secure the capital essential to their viability, it took insight and courage on the part of the founders. Mechanics and Farmers Bank was an outgrowth of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. It had a tremendous effect on the African American community in Durham by helping black businesses survive the Great Depression. It provided a secure place for depositors to accumulate wealth, a place sensitive to the needs of the community, and a place committed to helping the community become self-supporting.