Pennies and Nickels Add Up to Success: Black Banking Pioneer Maggie Lena Walker

tags: African American history

Crystal M. Moten is curator of African American history in the Division of Work and History, National Museum of American History. A south side of Chicago native, she has taught at small liberal arts colleges on the east coast and in the upper Midwest. Her research interests include the intersectional connections between African American labor, business, and civil rights history with emphasis on post-world war II Black freedom movements in the urban Midwest.

Maggie Lena Walker was one of the most important Black businesswomen in the nation, and today too few people have heard of her.

Maggie Lena Walker was the first Black woman in the nation to organize and run a bank. And she did it in the segregated South in the former capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia. But that’s not all: Walker ran the Independent Order of Saint Luke, one of the largest African American fraternal benefit societies; she bought a building and opened a department store; and she financed and edited a newspaper, The Saint Luke Herald. Walker’s work wasn’t for her individual benefit, however; it was for the benefit of her community.

Read entire article at National Museum of American History

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