American National Bank

From Bhamwiki
Jump to: navigation, search
American National Bank

American National Bank was founded in 1964 with its main office in the former Steiner Bros. Bank building at 2101 1st Avenue North, which was re-clad in a modern-style facade. The bank, which was organized in 1963 with $600,000 in capital, had its formal opening on April 15 of that year. The bank kept its offices open six days a week to better serve Birmingham's busy workers.

The bank was notable for its bi-racial slate of officers. President and chairman Oscar Hyde was joined by vice president Leroy Gaillard, Jr, executive vice president Joseph Costa, Jr and cashier Richard Hutcheson, Jr. The directors included physicians James Montgomery, R. C. Stewart and J. W. Stewart; J. H. Coppedge of Miami, Florida; Maurice Ryles, Virgil Harris, Karl Friedman, Lucius Pitts, Arthur Shores, and Jesse Lewis.

The founders hoped that their non-discriminarory policies would attract federal deposits away from the city's established banking institutions. The business also attracted the notice of violent white supremacist Ronnie Tidwell. Tidwell's plans to attack the bank with tear gas, dynamite or hand-grenades was nixed by Klan Grand Titan Robert Thomas. Tidwell also was dissuaded by warnings from FBI informant Tommy Rowe that there were too many police near the bank and an attack would be akin to a suicide mission.

On August 2, 1968 Hyde was indicted along with Attorney General Richmond Flowers, Joe Breck Gantt and James C. Kelly in connection with an extortion scheme in which Flowers solicited payments from small life insurance and loan companies to avoid harassment by his office. Hyde was alleged to have personally made most of the threats and was convicted under the Hobbs Act and sentenced to serve eight years in prison.

Following the indictments, the Adrey and McWane families took over majority interest and changed the name to National Bank of Commerce with Frank Polk as president.

References

  • "Interracial Group Organizes New Bank in B'ham" (November 21, 1963) Jet magazine. Vol. 25, No. 5, p. 54
  • "Mayor to cut ribbon, open newest bank Wednesday" (April 12, 1964) The Birmingham News
  • May, Gary (2008) The Informant: The FBI, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Murder of Viola Liuzzo. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press ISBN 0300129998