Demopolis Federal Credit Union
Ayers was the son of sharecroppers in Demopolis, Alabama. Growing up
in the rural south in the 1940s and 50s, Eddie experienced the blatant
racism of segregation. "We couldn't eat at the same places, we
couldn't sleep at the same places, and we couldn't play at the same
places that the whites enjoyed."
Eddie worked as a teacher and became involved in the struggle for the
right to vote during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. As he and
other black professionals began to speak out, the local white power
structure reacted with economic sanctions, withdrawing their financing
of mortgages and creating serious economic hardships.
"In this town we only have two banks, and it was hard for black
people to borrow money. So the idea came up at one of our meetings that
we should organize a credit union." With the birth of the Demopolis
Federal Credit Union in 1966, black people finally had a chance to own
a financial institution dedicated to addressing some of the basic needs
of their own community. Now, over thirty years later, Eddy is still
involved with the Demopolis Federal Credit Union. This institution continues
to make loans for everyday necessities like car repairs, home appliances
and school clothes, things a middle-class family would put on a credit
card. The credit union has also made loans to small businesses like
a barbershop, owned by Harrison Coleman.
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