Wells Fargo Does An About Face After BOSSIP Highlighted Black Stuntmen’s Fight For Bank To Honor Black Stagecoach Driver In Commcercial
The Black Stuntmen’s Association scored a win in their fight against Wells Fargo to honor a freedom-fighting black stagecoach driver who worked for the bank during the California Gold Rush.
Wells Fargo bank offered to fork over a $10,000 grant to the Black Stuntmen’s Association the day after BOSSIP asked its reps about the group’s battle with the bank to commemorate their one-time employee, William Robison, with a commercial featuring a black stagecoach driver. The bank also agreed to include them in an upcoming publicity campaign.
“We recognize the importance of your legacy to the African-American community,” Wells Fargo rep Lisa Frison told the stuntmen in an email, “and would be pleased to help bring broader visibility and awareness to your organization in this way.”
But association president Willie Harris said the $10,000 amounted to “hush money,” and said the bank hadn’t been in touch for weeks until BOSSIP began asking questions.
“I think they think if they offered us the $10,000 we would go away,” Harris told BOSSIP. “We ain’t for sale.”
“Why did they wait till you called?” he asked. “We do have some pride.”
The association – created in the 1960s to tackle the entrenched racism in the Hollywood movie stunt industry – has been in a two year fight with Wells Fargo over Robison, who drove a six-horse stagecoach from Stockton, Ca. to the Nevada gold mines for 40 years until he retired in 1895. Robison was part of a gun-toting gang who freed a group of African-Americans in San Joaquin County who were being illegally sold into slavery. Robison also worked to desegregate California’s school system, and as a delegate in the state Convention of Colored Citizens, he distributed petitions demanding blacks be allowed to testify in court.
We’ve reached out to Wells Fargo for comment.
Harris said he’s asked Wells Fargo for a face-to-face meeting, and he doesn’t know if the group would accept the money.
“We’re not stupid and we do have respect for ourselves,” Harris told BOSSIP. “We’re going to stand on our feet.”