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Minority Banking Timeline


Maggie Lena (Mitchell) Walker

Maggie Walker

Born July 15, 1867, in Richmond, VA, Maggie Lena Walker, the daughter of a former slave and a white abolitionist, became the first African-American woman to establish a bank. She secured the funds from members of the Independent Order of St. Luke, an African-American benevolent society. The St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, which was founded in 1903, continues today as the Consolidated Bank & Trust. The name change was due, in part, to a merger with two smaller black-owned banks in 1930.

As an active member of the benevolent society, Walker found that white-owned banks did not want to take deposits from a black organization; thus, she saw a need to establish a bank by and for blacks. In a speech in 1901, she stated: "Let us have a bank that will take the nickels and turn them into dollars."

In 1882, Walker graduated from the Armstrong Normal School in Richmond. After graduation she taught for three years. She married Armstead Walker, Jr., a building contractor, in 1886. The Walkers had three sons, one of whom died in infancy. In addition to being a wife and mother, she worked as a teacher and then became the executive/treasurer of the Independent Order of St. Luke. She also founded the St. Luke Herald newspaper.

In 1908, Walker injured her kneecap and was confined to a wheelchair. She became a role model for people with disabilities. She died on December 15, 1934. The National Park Service operates her restored and furnished home in the historic Jackson Ward neighborhood of Richmond.


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