Burke: Tillman Offers ‘Smoke,’ No Fire, On Bank of America Slave Ties

Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times, Mar. 4

Ald. Dorothy Tillman (3rd) has produced “some smoke” but no fire in an effort to support her claim that Bank of America lied on a sworn affidavit to conceal its past ties to slavery, the City Council’s most powerful alderman said Thursday.

Noted slave owner John Brown was a director of Providence Bank, a predecessor of Fleet Boston, which was acquired by Bank of America last year.

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Tillman’s attack against Bank of America was reminiscent of the public campaign she waged against J.P. Morgan Chase, parent company of Bank One.

Last year, Tillman accused J.P. Morgan Chase of profiting from the slave trade and lying about it on a sworn affidavit. She demanded that the company be barred from doing business with the city.

The bank then hired a research firm to conduct a 3,500-hour search through Louisiana records. In January, JP Morgan Chase admitted that two of its predecessor banks in Louisiana allowed 13,000 slaves to be used as collateral on loans and took ownership of 1,250 slaves when those loans defaulted.

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