On this International Credit Union Day, the League would like to share its thanks for the many ways that you continue to impact the lives of North Carolinians. Your commitment to helping credit union members reach their financial goals is an inspiration, and your dedication to the cooperative principles and values sets you apart.
In December 1915, John Sprunt Hill told a group of farmers in Durham County that the people’s banks and other cooperatives he visited in Europe could lift them out of poverty and transform their lives. “The first step in devising ways and means of giving the farmer of North Carolina a fair share of the profits of his labor is organized credit,” Hill remarked to this small gathering of farmers who were regularly victimized by loan sharks and the crop-lien system.
From that challenge delivered on a cold December day, 20 farmers pooled together $101.75 to organize the first credit union in NC – the Lowe’s Grove Credit Union in January 1916. Through the years, the credit union idea spread through the state thanks to the hard work and commitment of everyday people who saw value in cooperative finance and its ability to change people’s lives.
Among these heroes is J.E. Grigsby, a public school principal in Charlotte who saw how the discriminatory lack of credit harmed the hard-working African American employees of the Charlotte school system. Like the Durham farmers before him, Grigsby took the first step toward righting a wrong and in 1941 helped to organize the School Workers Federal Credit Union (known today as First Legacy Community Credit Union).
North Carolina has changed through the years and our problems today are different than in the past. However, the need for “a fair shake” where financial services is concerned is still hard to come by for many, as we are all aware. By providing the opportunity for everyday people to gain access to affordable credit, through guiding members to make thoughtful choices that are in their best interests, and by working with members when no one else will, you honor the legacy of people like John Sprunt Hill and J.E. Grigsby.
On this day where we celebrate International Credit Union Day, your state trade association salutes you for your service more than 3.3 million North Carolinians.
Yours in cooperation,