Thomas B. Patterson Piedmont Credit Union

Everything you need to know about how Thomas B. Patterson Piedmont Credit union started.

How The Thomas B. Patterson Piedmont Credit Union Started

Living and working as a farmer, in the small town of Landis, Rowan County, North Carolina, in 1918 was Thomas Patterson.

This period, was particularly tough for African Americans living in the United States, especially in the South, just 53 years after the abolition of slavery.

After slavery, African Americans were essentially incapable of borrowing money, therefore they had to cooperate to find a means to do so for their companies. Black folks struggled to get by, due to Jim Crow legislation and the inability to get a loan at a conventional bank.

It was necessary by law, for a black folk to have a white guy certify his good moral character, before, he could obtain a loan.

The crop-lien method was widely adopted by farmers at the time. Farmers could obtain credit to pay for food, fertilizer, and other requirements by using the next crop’s output as collateral. The crop-lien system’s interest rates were too high for the struggling farmers to afford. The loans had to be paid whether or not the crops were successful.

In order to prevent African American farmers in Rowan County from living in indebtedness for the rest of their lives, Patterson realized he had to take action.

On April 19, 1918, Thomas B. Patterson of Landis (Rowan County) gathered 22 African-American farmers and they collectively brought $126 of capital to form the Piedmont Credit Union, the first credit union established by African-Americans in North Carolina in the United States.

Contributions Of Patterson Piedmont

  • Patterson, had a big impact, on the credit union movement as a founder member of the first African American Credit Union in the US. His work changed how African American farmers were able to get loans, which was a vital step in the ongoing fight for racial equality.
  • The Piedmont Credit Union bought food, fertilizer, and other supplies together to save money and create wealth as a group. There was a fixed 6 percent interest rate on loans for farmers.
  • The credit union, gave members the chance to run for office, and choose their own directors at a time when racist laws that existed prohibited African-Americans from casting ballots in elections.
  • The strategy used by Piedmont Credit Union was a complete success. By the end of 1919, Piedmont had 82 members and a total of $1,347.83. The expansion of Piedmont became known. 13 further African American credit unions were established in the state by 1920.

For the African American agricultural families in the area, the establishment of these credit unions marked a significant turning point. They were able to obtain reasonable loans through the cooperative concept while avoiding the unscrupulous practices of the crop-lien system.

Despite Piedmont CU’s demise, the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), with its headquarters in St. Louis, still exists. The AACUC, which was established in 1999, now provides services to more than 150 credit unions nationwide.

According to Patterson a man’s position in the community is determined by what he saves, not what he obtains. He also made mention that the greatest setback to a farmer is inability to get capital. But his credit union provided financial assistance.

Thomas was a pioneer and a leader who contributed to the racial equity in the credit union sector.

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