James C. Napier, politician, lawyer and owner of the first Black-owned bank in Tennessee, was born in Nashville on June 9, 1845.
Napier was born an enslaved person, but he and his family were freed when he was three years old. By 1864, Napier had become involved in politics and worked alongside Congressman John Mercer Langston on behalf of newly freed Blacks.
He studied at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he earned a law degree in 1872. He returned to Nashville in 1878 to become the first Black man to preside over the Nashville City Council, where he served until 1886.
He was instrumental in the hiring of Black teachers in public schools, and in 1904 he founded the Nashville One-Cent Savings Bank, the first bank in Tennessee owned by Black Americans.
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