Finance company Citigroup has revealed after studying archival documents that slave labor and slavery in general were most likely building blocks in the company's rise. The New York Times reports that the company is revealing this information as part of a diversity pledge it made in 2020, as the country reckoned with the death of George Floyd.
In a Thursday blog post, a company spokesperson said the research that went into discovering the company's ties to slavery actually goes back two decades; at the time it didn't find evidence, but apparently new information came to light.
The post says, "This latest review of our records largely reaffirmed our previous research in that it did not identify any records showing that Citi or a predecessor institution directly purchased, sold or held enslaved persons. Our added layers of diligence did allow us to learn that some Citi predecessor entities likely indirectly profited from the institution of slavery through financial transactions and relationships with individuals and entities located or operating in the United States before 1866."
The post goes on to say people tied to the company's history were tied to the slave trade and early directors of City Bank of New York were likely slave owners. The post concludes, "We remain committed to doing our part to close the racial wealth gap by expanding financial inclusion in communities of color, supporting the visions of diverse entrepreneurs and much more. None of this changes the past but it can help make for a more equitable future."
The Times also reports that the Restitution Study Group said in an email, "We applaud the truth today, but truth is not enough." Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, the group's executive director, went on to say, "We urge Citigroup to reach out to us to discuss an appropriate form of restitution."