According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, legacy means anything handed down from, or as from an ancestor.
Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines legacy as something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.
As AACUC celebrates its 25th Anniversary of convening Annual Conferences, I am reminded of why the organization had to be created. I’m reminded of the legacy lessons and individuals that have contributed to not only AACUC but the credit union movement.
Recently I attended the funeral of our Chief HR Officer’s (LaSonya Berry) Grandmother (Mrs. Lillie Spann) in a small town in South Carolina. The historic small town country church was full of dignitaries from the surrounding communities, but the most impressive thing I have ever seen in my life was the amount of FAMILY members that were there – the service was moving and throughout the service I kept thinking – this is legacy.
Listening to the tributes, singing the songs and hearing the preachers preach (at black funerals we tend to have a little church with our funerals) reminded me of how important traditions are to stabilize communities. People coming together for a common purpose. In this case to honor a woman who was truly inspirational and the matriarch of her family.
When I look at what we do as credit union professionals – we do that. Come together for a common purpose … helping our members to live better lives, equipping them with financial products and services that will help them thrive – not just survive.
The legacy of AACUC is rich with firsts from African American credit union professionals, I’ve taken the liberty of listing a few very impressive firsts:
- Pete Crear, first African American to be an Interim President at the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), and still the only African American to lead a credit union league (he led 3)
- William “Bill” Porter, first African American to lead a $billion-dollar credit union
- Michael Hale, first African American credit union CEO to fly on Air Force One
- Shirley Jenkins, first African American to be the President of Municipal Credit Union in New York
- Bert J. Hash, Jr. was the first African American to receive the CUES Professional of the Year award
- Sheilah Montgomery is the creator and co-founder of the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC)
- Helen Godfrey Smith, created the African American Credit Union Hall of Fame
- Maurice R. Smith, created the 8th Cooperative Principle
- Adrian S. Johnson was the first African American who wasn’t a CEO to Chair AACUC
- Sandra DeVoe Bland, first African American and first woman to Chair the Board of Directors of SRP FCU
- Marsha Majors is the first African American woman to lead a billion-dollar credit union
- Gary Officer is the first Jamaican to be the Executive Director of the National Credit Union Foundation
- Annie Vamper, is the first African American woman to have an award named after her
- Timothy L. Anderson, first African American to lead the United States Senate FCU as President/CEO
- Gary Perez, first African American to lead USC Credit Union, he became the President/CEO at 27
- Beverly Anderson is the first African American woman to become the President/CEO of BECU
There are many more first contributions from African Americans in the credit union space, what is important to note is that all of the above contributions/achievements are part of a legacy that transcends race. These contributions and achievements have enriched the credit union movement creating a legacy for all of us. We are FAMILY.