This Day in Black History: July 15, 1867

Maggie Lena Walker, the first woman and first African-American to become president of a bank, was born.

Posted: 07/15/2014 12:00 AM EDT
Maggie Lena Walker, the first woman and first African American to become president of a bank, was born.

She was an African-American woman who was the first female bank president and the first to charter a bank in the United States.

Maggie Lena Walker developed a reputation for making significant improvements for Black Americans and for women. She taught grade school for three years until, in 1886, she married Armstead Walker Jr., a brick contractor. In 1902, she started a newspaper for the organization The St. Luke Herald. After that, she chartered the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank. Walker served as the bank's first president.

Before long, she agreed to serve as chairman of the board of directors when the bank merged with two other Richmond, Virginia, banks to become The Consolidated Bank and Trust Company, which grew to serve generations of Richmond residents as an African-American owned institution.

Walker's health gradually declined, and by 1928 she was using a wheelchair as a result of her being disabled by paralysis. Despite her physical limitations, Walker remained actively committed to her life's work, including serving as leader of the Independent Order of St. Luke and chairman of the bank until her death on Dec. 15, 1934.

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(Photo: courtesy nps.gov)

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