U-1104 Interview with Charles Sanders
- Collection: Southern Oral History Program Interviews
This interview centered on Charles Sanders' interest in starting the Greater Kinston Credit Union and his experiences in doing so in 1952, as well as some of his family's history in North Carolina and Florida. Key topics included Mr. Sanders' work as an agent for N.C. Mutual in Kinston and Lenoir County, which gave him an awareness of the financial challenges faced by black residents and opportunities to interact with them. He described his efforts, along with Frank Grice, to found the Greater Kinston Credit Union, with several local black professionals as the first members, along with about thirty-five tobacco and textile factory workers and sharecroppers in the area. They found they needed to explain the structure and function of the credit union in its early years to community members, and there were early debates within the credit union's board about whether it was strong enough to loan money. Mr. Sanders talked about its growth and move to a local funeral home, and his work in the initial years essentially to run the credit union from his home, and the fact that his supervisors at N.C. Mutual mistakenly suspected he was moonlighting for another employer. Mr. Sanders' career after leaving N.C. Mutual included many years with the U.S. Postal Service. He also talked about his birth in 1918 in Apopka, Fla., and memories such as seeing President Franklin Roosevelt during an appearance at Rollins College in Florida in the 1930s. Mr. Sanders recalled his family's connections to North Carolina, his own move to North Carolina in 1939, and his grandfather's earlier experiences near the turn of the twentieth century in Johnston County, N.C., where he owned land but lost it apparently when his savings and property deed were taken from a safe at a local store. Mr. Sanders graduated from Shaw University in Raleigh in 1943, and he was married that year to Alicia Dunn, with whom he had two children before her passing in 2004. The interview also covered the civil rights era in Kinston, including Mr. Sanders' recollections of school inequalities during segregation, descriptions of his son, who lives near Seattle, and his daughter in Maryland, and his three grandchildren, and his feeling of being blessed that he still is able to live independently as he approaches age 95. This interview was one of several interviews conducted by the SOHP for a project on the history of minority credit unions in North Carolina.