First African American Credit Union Established in North Carolina

In honor of Black History Month, we are continuing to spotlight organizations and individuals who have been instrumental in the credit union movement.

Post- Slavery, African Americans were nearly paralyzed when it came to borrowing money and had to work together to figure out a way to gain credit for their businesses. Navigating Jim Crow laws and the inability to receive a loan at a traditional bank left black people struggling to make ends meet.  To combat the limited borrowing options, black farmers from Rowan County, North Carolina worked together to establish the first African American credit union in 1918 called Piedmont Credit Union.

Another eight African American credit unions were established by 1920. In 1934 Howard University Employees FCU was founded as a Black-owned credit union. During the 1940s, the number of black credit unions rose to fifty-five, giving North Carolina nearly as many as all other states combined.

The Southern Workman, a journal published by the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia, was one of the first to report on black credit unions in North Carolina. Thomas B. Patterson, one of the founders of the Piedmont Credit Union described what life was like during that time and the benefits the newly established credit union would bring to struggling farmers.

Pic of Farmer CU


The Center for the Study of the African American South (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Carolinas Credit Union League