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12-14-12: The Credit Lines Between Us
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After a couple months looking at the relationship between housing, wealth, and inequality, "The Lines Between Us" is turning its attention to equality of economic opportunity.
First, small businesses. Through much of the 20th century, commercial credit was hard to come by for people of color. In Baltimore, part of that gap was filled by William Lloyd Adams, known as “Little Willie.” After making a lot of money running illegal lotteries in 1940s Baltimore, he turned to more legitimate enterprises and essentially became a bank for aspiring business people who lacked access to credit.
When Adams died last year at age 97, former Baltimore Mayor Thomas D’Alessandro III told the Baltimore Sun, “Little Willie brought black entrepreneurs into the formerly all-white business community.”
We want to talk about "Little Willie" Adams today, as well as efforts to expand credit to minority business people throughout the last part of the 20th Century. Joining us is University of Maryland law professor Larry Gibson—his voice may sound familiar…he’s been on WYPR recently talking about his new book Young Thurgood: The Making of a Supreme Court Justice. But he’s also played a part in the "Little Willie" Adams story.
Also with us is Ackneil Muldrow II, chair of the Governor’s Commission on Small Business. He also ran the Development Credit Fund, Inc., which expanded lending to small minority businesses here in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s.
The Lines Between Us is made possible by grants from Associated Black Charities, Cohen Opportunity Fund, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Baltimore Community Foundation, and Open Society Institute-Baltimore, as well as support from members of the WYPR Board of Directors.