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WINSTON, N.C. – James Gilliam, a pioneer in the effort to bring credit union services to African-Americans and one of the leading lights of the community development credit union movement suffered a stroke and died on November 19. Gilliam was a co-founder and for many years the Treasurer/Manager of the St. Luke Credit Union in Windsor, N.C., the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (NFCDCU) said. He was a former board member of NFCDCU, and was one of the founders and directors of the North Carolina Minority Support Center, a nonprofit organization that serves 15 CDCUs throughout the state. “When I became director of the Federation in 1983, at a time when our organization had no resources and few prospects, Mr. Gilliam was the first credit union to invite me to visit,” said NFCDCU executive director Cliff Rosenthal. “He welcomed me into his home and took me on a tour of the area, where he taught me about the long, difficult history of establishing and operating a credit union in the segregated South. The growth of St. Luke Credit Union over 60 years is a living testimony to the heroic efforts of James Gilliam.” At a time when African-Americans were by and large unable to access funds from mainstream financial institutions because of prejudice and segregation, Gilliam helped rally his neighbors, co-workers and friends to work for their own financial independence. “We’d meet every Wednesday night in a one-room schoolhouse with a stove, and we’d put in a quarter or a dollar. Out of that we found we could take that money-I believe we had about $2,000 and 400 people – and start a credit union,” Gilliam said of those days. Gilliam served as volunteer manager of the St. Luke Credit Union during the 1950s and 1960s, in spite of the continued segregated nature of Eastern North Carolina. Today, the credit union he helped found has nearly $10 million in assets and a membership of almost 3,000 served by two branches, the NFCDCU said. Martin Eakes, founder and president of the $94 million Self- Help Credit Union in Durham said, “I consider myself one of the gray-haired `youngsters’ who have listened and learned from Mr. Gilliam during the mere 20 years or so that we have been working in the civil rights and credit union movements. I have asked for Mr. Gilliam’s advice, and have looked to the model offered by St. Luke’s Credit Union, during every single year that the credit union I worked for (Self-Help) has existed. Above all, we knew Mr. Gilliam for his eloquence, that rare ability to present a vision of justice in language that moves the soul.” [email protected]

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