U-1100 Interview with Amaza Byrd

This interview centered on Amaza Byrd's life in Bertie County in eastern North Carolina, where she was born in 1932, and her experience working for the St. Luke Credit Union. She talked about her family, which includes four children and four grandchildren, and also recalled graduating from W.S. Etheridge High School in Bertie, before working as a secretary, farm worker, domestic worker, and agent for N.C. Mutual Insurance over the years. Byrd started part-time work for St. Luke in 1966, and she described her experiences as a teller, clerk, bookkeeper and manager at St. Luke during her twenty-two years there. Ms. Byrd discussed her strong belief in the value that St. Luke brought to the community, in particular as a source of loans for black citizens ranging from farmers to church leaders, who often struggled to get fair and equal treatment from traditional banks. She also recalled a rural/small-town society in the past in which a “person's word was their bond,” an ethic which she feels is missing in current society, and her belief that the church has been a critical source of strength and togetherness for black residents in Bertie County and elsewhere for many years. Byrd told the story of her son, Thessie Mitchell, who was working for the Duke University police department when he was struck by a car and paralyzed. She said that, in spite of such hardships, she feels strongly that she and her family have been very blessed. This interview was one of several interviews conducted by the SOHP for a project on the history of minority credit unions in North Carolina.

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