Maggie L. Walker let nothing stand in her way. Born July 15, 1864 to a slave in Richmond, Virginia - the Capital of the Confederacy - Maggie went on to found a national bank, and forever gives us a glimpse into our own power and potential.
Maggie's mother was a slave. Maggie's biological father was a young Irish Immigrant and confederate soldier. Eventually Maggie's mother, Elizabeth, went onto marry a fellow servant, William Mitchell in 1868 and little four year old Maggie took her new fathers name. In 1876, her step-father was murdered, and her mother, now a young widow, washed laundry to make ends meet, so Maggie helped.
Maggie went to school in Richmond, and in 1883 and became an elementary school teacher. She married soon after and, as went the times (married teachers were not allowed to teach) she resigned. However she had more callings and energy. In the time of Jim Crow with lack of resources and serious racism, she wanted to help her community. Maggie joined her local social organization, the Order of Saint Luke, which gave support and services to the community. She helped shape it into a financially vibrant, national instrument for economic growth, at a time when there were not many resources for blacks at all. Maggie then started a newspaper, named the Saint Luke Herald, as well as a store. Maggie kept trying different things and met many people along the way, like Mary McLeod Bethune, with whom she became great friends.
Maggie was very aware of the need for financial access in order for the Black community to develop, and Blacks were consistently denied access to capital. She took action and chartered a Bank based in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia in 1903, giving Blacks access to much needed Home and Business loans. It was a success! Her bank, named the Saint Luke's Penny Savings Bank, lasted through the Great Depression, grew into The Consolidated Bank & Trust Company. Maggie's bank was the longest operating Black owned bank until 2009 when (during our most recent recession where many banks were consolidated) it was acquired by Premier Bank in a multi Bank deal.
Maggie served as President and Chairwoman until her death in 1934. Adversity did not stop her: she was born to a slave before the Civil War ended, her step-father was murdered, her husband died, in later years she was in a wheelchair and lost use of her legs due to diabetes. And through all of this Maggie stayed active, was an incredible businesswoman, and provided a positive and much needed foundation for Black financial success. Maggie holds an incredible record in US Financial and Banking History, and a formative place in the lives of so many black families that she was able to help with her bank.
Best Quote: "I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but a laundry basket practically on my head."