Saturday, February 21, 2015

Famous Black Firsts: Banker Maggie Lena Walker

Maggie Lena Walker was born on July 15th 1867 in Richmond, Virginia. Her mother was a former slave and assistant cook in a mansion and her father was a butler and a writer. After the death of her father, she says murder the law says suicide, she and her mother moved. Her mother started a laundry business to support themselves. It is said that during this time she saw the huge difference between how Blacks and Whites were treated. Later in her life she taught grade school for a few years but was forced to leave after marrying. It was illegal for teachers to be married at the school. Don't ask me. 

In 1895 she began working with the Order of St. Luke's and quickly became their grand secretary. When she started they were on the verge of bankruptcy and a few years later she made a speech detailing what she had planned to save them and it worked. In 1902 she started the St . Luke Herald newspaper to spread news of what they were doing. In 1903 she opened the St. Luke Penny Saving Bank making her not just the first Black woman to open and run a bank, but the first woman period in the US. Two years later she opened St. Luke Emporium that gave Black women the chance to work and gave Black communities the chance to buy cheaper products.

Click here for previous Famous Black Firsts.  

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