Do you want to know who is Thomas Patterson? Then feel free. In this article, you will learn who Thomas Patterson is. Firstly, Thomas Patterson is the founder of “Piedmont Credit Union”. Piedmont Credit Union was one of the first (if not the first) African American Credit Unions based in the United States. Back then, “Thomas Patterson” was a farmer in North Carolina.

He wrote about the struggles of being a farmer, while “Jim Crow” laws were prevalent, in an article that was published at Southern Workman in 1920. It was well-known that the north carolina farmers struggled under the crop-lien system which paved way for farmers to receive credit in exchange for their next farm products as collateral. Unfortunately, the interest rates were so exorbitant and for lots of farmers, it was the only option they have apart from loan sharks.

In the article in “Southern Workman”, Thomas Patterson discussed a lot about the ways African-Americans can used the cooperative system to improve their livelihood. According to CU Insight, the farmers who were members of Piedmont collectively buy foods, fertilizers, tools, and other necessary equipment/items of their business to save their money and build wealth. By the end of 1919, Piedmont were successful to record 82 members and $1347.83 in assets. The success of Piedmont began to spread and by 1920, there were 13 other African-American credit unions in Northern Carolina.

Next, let’s discuss on “Herbert Bertie Bowman”. Successfully inducted into the African-American Credit Union Coalition in the year 2020. Bowman is the longest-serving African-American staff member on Capitol Hill and has been a board volunteer at United States Senate Federal Credit Union since 1975. With a total of 53 years, during his time, Mr. Bowman has served the credit union longer than any other individual within the organization. Bowman’s ex-colleagues often reflect on his commitment to the credit union journey.

On the 9th May 2019, the United States Senate Federal Credit Union held a ceremony in respect of “Mr. Bowman” to dedicate their new headquarters building in Mr. Bowman’s name. The ceremony which was held in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Room at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, was a very fitting setting which paid an excellent homage to the decades of transformational service of “Mr. Bowman” which he has provided to the Foreign Relations Committee.

Together with Mr. Bowman, Dr. Willie Bryant was successfully inducted into the African-American Credit Union Coalition Hall of Fame in the year 2020 (posthumously). Dr. Bryant was a brilliant civil rights activist and volunteer at Rockland Employees Federal Credit Union for more than 20 years. Bryant was also among the founding members of the African-American Credit Union Coalition and the first Chairman of its Reaching Toward the Future internship program. His ex-colleague and Spring Valley NAACP President, “Willie Trotman”, remembers and described “Dr. Bryant” as a passionate civil rights activist with a passion and commitment for educating children.

These are just some few of the important dignitaries in the credit union movement, specifically some of the pioneers of Black-owned credit unions. These trailblazers paved the way for the credit union movement and only represent a small sample of the amazing leaders who championed financial literacy and fought for equal rights and representation in the financial world.

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