THE ICON: Alden McDonald
THE LEGACY: Throughout his life, Alden McDonald has been a go-getter, starting with odd jobs in his neighborhood and continuing with a job at a bank that he liked — a lot. Before his 30th birthday, McDonald was the head of Liberty Bank, which has become the oldest black-owned bank in the Gulf South, offering African-Americans, many of whom were in the growing middle class, entree to financial services that previously had been out of reach. McDonald built his bank, and rebuilt it after Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding, which destroyed bank buildings, bank records and the homes of many Liberty customers, including McDonald’s. But Liberty has come back: According to the latest report at www.ibanknet.com, it has more than $600 million in assets, compared with $350 million before the storm.
THE ARTIST: Alden McDonald
THE INSPIRATION: “People remain poor only because they have not had the opportunity to open a door. Once a door is open for them and they are pointed in the right direction, they can perform like anyone else.” — Alden McDonald Jr., in a 2001 interview with The Times-Picayune