Maggie Lena Walker First Female Bank President
Maggie Lena Walker (July 15, 1864 – December 15, 1934) was the first black woman in the United States to charter a bank.
She began her career as a teacher at the Richmond Colored Normal School. Due to the school’s rule that married women could not work Walker stayed home to care for her family.
Since her early teens Maggie Lena Walker was a member of the Order of St. Luke. She later published a newsletter, the St. Luke Hearld, which tackled the important issues of the black community.
“Let us have a bank that will take nickels and turn them into dollars”, Maggie L. Walker stated this in 1901 in an address to the members of the Independent Order of St. Luke at the 34th Annual Session of the Right Worthy Grand Council of Virginia.
Walker recruited Emmett Burke, the head teller from the first African American bank chartered in the U.S, True Reformers Bank. Walker opened the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank on November 2, 1903. On opening day there were $9,000 in deposits on its first day of business. By January of 1906, savings deposits totaled $170,000, providing opportunities for home and business loans. By 1920, the bank had financed over 600 home loans, allowing for significant real estate holdings in Richmond’s African American residential community.
Learn more about Maggie L. Walker at the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site here.