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A Privilege to be There: First Merchants Supports Juneteenth Celebrations

Friday, June 24, 2022

First Merchants Bank took to the streets last weekend in support of Juneteenth, our nation’s newest federal holiday. We were proud to stand with our diverse communities Sunday, June 19, as we honored a historic victory, and pledged to work together to create a better future.

Across our service area, we marched in parades, sponsored events, and sang loudly to celebrate, support, and uplift our diverse communities – sometimes as the only bank in attendance.

“The mood at the Indy Juneteenth Fest was very upbeat and celebratory, very welcoming and inviting. I felt like it was a privilege to be there,” shared Steph Madison, Diversity and Engagement Manager with First Merchants Bank. “We were the only bank marching in the parade, and I think that is us putting action behind words, which can be even more impactful than dollars. It’s easy to write a check and slap our logo on a website – it’s another thing to travel from a multistate area and spend a weekend together, showing support and sharing in a celebration with strangers.”

It was something that made a difference, not just to our communities, but to our employees.

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“The Indy Juneteenth Festival was an example of how an industry that, in the past, was on the wrong side of history, can merge with its neighborhood in support of diverse community efforts and improving the future,” said Dwain Davis, Community Home Lending Officer and chair of the People of Color Employee Resource Group at First Merchants Bank. “Having boots on the ground is what the People of Color (POC) Resource Group of First Merchants Bank was founded on. Being the chair of POC, and a person of color myself, it is important to see the efforts of industries like banking in support of these diverse neighborhoods. First Merchants Bank did just that.”

Our world is increasingly diverse, and we, as a nation, are increasingly aware of the harms of the past as we work to correct them. At First Merchants, we believe that if we all stand together, united, we can effect positive change for each and every facet of our society. This belief in serving our neighbors and bettering our communities is at the core of who we are.

“Showing up at events like this is about building trust,” Steph said. “There are a lot of trust issues with banking – especially when it’s a larger bank. So, by showing up and showing the community that we are part of the community – reflecting all its diversity and passion – we’re better able to help people and communities prosper.”

“I’m proud of us, that we are not just going through the motions,” she added. “We’re showing up in these communities and asking people to come and join us.”

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