Three generations of Mitchells have made an enormous impact on the development of modern Washington DC.
By Adoria Doucette
In 1934 Albert Einstein was visiting the White House, the Apollo Theatre opened its doors for the first time, Afghanistan joined the League of Nations and President Roosevelt was steadfastly trying to rebuild a nation that was tentatively recovering from a financial meltdown. The United States Import – Export Bank was founded, followed by the US Securities & Exchange Commission. The environment was ripe to expand and take advantage of opportunities within a changing financial environment. Noticing a great opportunity, 76 years ago this month Jesse H. Mitchell, a graduate of Howard University and the Wharton School of Finance founded Industrial Bank with $200,000 equivalent to $3.25 million today.
Within two decades Industrial Bank was a local powerhouse in the banking community and Mitchell would be considered one of the top ten businessmen in the country. Washington DC emerged as home to the largest black middle class in the nation, businesses of all sectors would be started and maintained in financial partnership with Industrial, and the bank would become the financial foundation of the fledgling U Street corridor, whose cultural influence is still vibrant this very day because of Industrial’s commitments. The importance of money in our lives is obvious, what is less understood and appreciated is the power of finance to build, shape and transform communities. In fact, many of the most powerful historical empires have faltered because of their inability or unwillingness to let private finance flourish. When he was praised for his trailblazing success Jesse Mitchell remarked “The simple duty of a banker is to stand between and draw together the man that needs and the man that has funds. I have done my duty and no more….the bank has created better homes, better communities and better and more useful lives.” At the time of his death in 1955, Industrial would have deposits of over $60 million in today’s dollars, and the position of Chief Executive Officer would be assumed by his son, B. Doyle Mitchell. Between the years of 1955 and 1970, 22 African American owned and controlled banks were established across the nation with the example of the stewardship of Industrial Bank by B. Doyle Mitchell Sr. who was recognized at the time of his death in 1993 as a prominent leader across the country for his expert guidance of the bank through wars, recessions and every economic environment imaginable.
Today Industrial bank is the largest African American owned financial institution in our region and in the top 10 nationwide with over $300 million in deposits. The bank is led by the founder’s grandson, B. Doyle Mitchell Jr. who has patiently and expertly guided the institution with the pragmatism of a skilled banker while still intelligently seizing on opportunity to expand its value to customers and the community. Mr. Mitchell led the banks expansion into Prince Georges County in the mid 90’s and at the time was recognized by the US Treasury Department as a pioneer in the industry, cementing the value that his family has played in local development for over 7 decades. Mr. Mitchells mother Cynthia Mitchell quietly and gracefully presided over the bank and family legacy as a member of the banks Board of Directors prior to her daughter and Industrial Executive Patricia Mitchell being elevated to her current position on the Board.
For anyone who takes an introspective look around our city, it is the most powerful and beautiful in the world. The Maryland and Virginia suburbs are consistently listed as the wealthiest anywhere, as talented individuals flock to DC from around the world to take part in historical achievements within every professional sphere. There are “cranes in the sky” in every section of the city with residential, corporate and government developments being erected and developed at a frenzied and renaissance like pace. There are limitless opportunities for our residents, Power Source would like to remind our readers that individuals like B. Doyle Mitchell Jr., his sister Patricia and their colleagues at Industrial Bank have been for the past 76 years and will always be one of the primary factors of our cities purpose, prominence and grandeur. Heirs of great establishments carry a heavy burden and often flounder where their predecessors flourished, Mr. Mitchell has represented the legacy of his grandfather in an exemplary manner. Power Source salutes B. Doyle Mitchell Jr. for his steadfast leadership of this hallowed and historical financial institution.