M&F Bank names first non-African American to board

The corporate parent of Mechanics & Farmers Bank has named Christoper G. Smith, a partner at a Raleigh law firm, to its board of directors. Smith is the first non-African American to serve on the board.

The Durham-based financial institution’s CEO, James H. Sills III, told The News & Observer’s editorial board last month that the bank was planning to diversify its board and take steps to attract a younger and more diverse customer base.

Mechanics & Farmers is categorized as an African-American bank because more than half its shareholders are African-American.

Smith, a partner at Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan, has a bachelor’s degree in political science/American government and a J.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

“Mr. Smith brings considerable expertise in business as well as a fresh perspective to his position as director,” James A. Stewart, the bank’s chairman, said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Mechanics & Farmers is officially rebranding itself as M&F Bank, although it will take 90 to 120 days to change the interior and exterior signage at its seven branches. The name change aligns the bank with its corporate parent, M&F Bancorp.

The bank has posted an annual profit every year since it opened its first branch in 1908, but in the latest quarter it posted a loss of $228,000 stemming from the disposal of “problem assets.”