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MILWAUKEE – Urging Americans to remember that the civil rights movement has evolved to another level, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) recently said African-Americans must have access to banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies with “fair lending practices.” In a Feb. 4 letter to the editor on www.onmilwaukee.com, Moore said, “They must have enough financial education to know a bad financial deal when they see it, so they can recognize when they are being taken advantage of.” Moore made headlines last year when she pulled back her support of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act after formally endorsing the legislation. According to the Wisconsin Credit Union League, Moore had signed a commitment with the state league prior to her election saying she would defend CURIA. Credit Union Times spoke with her about her views on credit unions in an article published last year. She said then that the large CUs that have moved away from the principles they were founded, which was her biggest concern. In the recent online letter, Moore spoke of her experience in helping to start the Cream City Community Development Credit Union to offset the rates from “predatory lenders.” “For instance, 20 years ago I became aware that my neighbors in Milwaukee and I were suffering at the hands of lenders and insurance companies that charged ridiculous and unreasonable rates in our poverty-stricken area,” Moore wrote. CCCDCU “enabled more community members to build assets by purchasing a home or a car, and opening savings accounts. In addition, the interest generated by the credit union stayed in the community, helping to increase everyone’s wealth.” Moore told the publication that more than half of those living in the United States without a bank account are minorities, and roughly 80% are families that make less than $25,000 a year. “These are the people preyed upon by payday lenders, check-cashing businesses, pawnshops, and other fringe banking operations, many of whom charge higher interest and commit their customers to unreasonable terms,” she wrote. Financial institutions can play a huge role in taking African-Americans to the next frontiers in the fight for civil rights, she told the publication. “America is a capitalist society, and until African-Americans have access to the same financial services as everyone else, and have the same level of financial literacy as everyone else, there is no hope for equality,” Moore wrote. -

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