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LTC Stephen F.
Edited >1 y ago
Thank you my friend Maj Marty Hogan for making us aware that July 15 is the anniversary of the birth of African-American teacher and businesswoman Maggie Lena Walker.

1. Background from edu.lva.virginia.gov/online_classroom/shaping_the_constitution/people/maggie_lena_walker

The progress of colored women / by Mary Church Terrell, Washington, D.C.: Smith Brothers, Printers . . ., [1898] Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Daniel A.P. Murray Pamphlets Collection, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Maggie Lena Walker was born in 1864 in Richmond, Virginia. Her mother, Elizabeth Draper, worked for many years as a laundress and may have been enslaved when her daughter was born. Her father was an Irish journalist. As a young girl she lived with her mother, stepfather, and a sibling in a house on College Alley near the Medical College of Virginia. She attended the Old Lancasterian School, and later the Navy Hill School, and became a member of First African Baptist Church in 1878.

When Walker graduated in 1883, she was among ten students in her class who gained national fame in their unsuccessful protest demanding use of Richmond's public facilities for their graduation ceremonies. After graduation, Walker taught school for a time and continued her own education by taking classes in accounting. In 1886 she married Armstead Walker Jr., a successful bricklayer and contractor. They had three sons, one of whom died in infancy. They also adopted a niece.

While she was still a young teenager, Walker joined the Good Idea Council # 16 of the Independent Order of the Sons and Daughters of St. Luke, a fraternal organization. She worked her way up in the organization to Right Worthy Grand Outside Sentinel, Inside Sentinel, Grand Messenger, Vice Chief, and by 1890, Chief. In 1899 Walker was elected as Right Worthy Grand Secretary of the Independent Order of St. Luke.

When Walker took the helm, the organization had about $32 in assets and $400 in debt. Using her business acumen, Walker launched a number of ventures that bolstered the organization's coffers and membership rolls. Under Walker's leadership, the group began printing a newspaper, the St. Luke Herald, in 1902. In 1903 they opened a three-story brick building that housed the St. Luke's headquarters, a print shop, and a lecture hall and meeting space that could be used by the public. Most notable, under Walker's leadership, the organization founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank on November 2, 1903, and she became the first African American female bank president in the nation. In the spring of 1905, she opened the St. Luke Emporium, a department store, which moved in November to 112 Broad Street.

During Walker's thirty-five-year tenure, the Independent Order of St. Luke's membership grew to more than 100,000, including more than 20,000 children, in twenty-three states, with a strong presence in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. Walker's leadership and success catapulted her to national fame. By 1912, she had become a member of the National Association of Colored Women and she founded the state federation called the Council of Colored Women. She helped the group to purchase a headquarters at 00 Clay Street. She was also involved in the Negro Organization Society, the Community House for Colored People, the Urban League, and the Virginia Interracial Commission.

Unfortunately, with the economic downturn that marked the Great Depression, Walker and the leaders of the bank were forced to merge with two other banks to become Consolidated Bank and Trust. Towards the end of her life, Walker was slowed by health issues. By late in the 1920s, she was confined to a wheelchair, which required that an elevator be installed in her house, and that the items necessary for her daily use, like her car and desk, be specially fitted to accommodate her. Ultimately, Walker succumbed to diabetic gangrene on December 15, 1934. Walker's former home at 110 ½ East Leigh Street was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975 and is maintained by the National Park Service.

Suggested Reading:
Marlowe, Gertrude W. “Walker, Maggie Lena.” In Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia. Edited by Darlene Clark Hine et al., vol. 2. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Carlson Publishing, 1993.
———. A Right Worthy Grand Mission: Maggie Lena Walker and the Quest for Black Economic Empowerment. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 2003.
Hester, Wesley P. “New Birth Year Uncovered for Maggie L. Walker” July 5, 2009. Richmond Times-Dispatch."

2. additional background from blackpast.org/aah/walker-maggie-lena-1867-1934
"Maggie Lena Mitchell was born in Richmond, Virginia on July 15, 1864. Walker’s mother, Elizabeth Draper, was an assistant cook and her father, Eccles Cuthbert, was an Irish-born newspaperman on the Van Lew estate. Her step-father, William Mitchell, was a butler on the estate. As a young girl she was forced to take on a number of responsibilities after the tragic death of her father. Mitchell worked as a delivery woman and babysitter while attending segregated public schools in Richmond. Nonetheless Mitchell graduated at the very top of her class in 1883. She then taught grade school for three years at the Lancaster School, at the same time she took classes in accounting and business.
In 1886, Maggie Lena Mitchell married Armistead Walker, Jr., a wealthy black contractor and member of her church. They had two sons, Russell and Melvin, whom she took care while her husband worked.
Mrs. Walker became an important community organizer for the Independent Order of St. Luke, a fraternal burial society that provided humanitarian services to the elderly. Walker started a newspaper for the St. Luke organization in 1902 called the St. Luke Herald. After the success of the newspaper she started the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank and became the first woman in the United States to charter a bank. She was also the bank's first president. During the Great Depression two other banks in Richmond merged with St. Luke to become The Consolidated Bank and Trust Company which continues to be the oldest black-owned and black-run bank in the United States.
Mrs. Walker was also an activist for African American and women’s rights. She was a member of the National Association of Colored Women, and also the vice president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for the Richmond chapter.
In 1923 Walker received an honorary Master's degree at Virginia Union University, a historically black university in Richmond. By 1928, Walker's health began to decline and she was soon confined to a wheelchair because of paralysis. Nonetheless she remained president of St. Luke’s Bank until her death on December 15, 1934.
Kwame A. Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2004); National Park Service, "Maggie Lena Walker," nps.gov/mawa/learn/historyculture/index.htm."

Maggie Lena Walker
The First Black Woman in the United States to become a president of a local bank.

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SGT David A. 'Cowboy' Groth
Excellent history share sir.
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