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Maggie Lena Walker


Maggie Lena Walker (c. 1867-1934) was born in Richmond, Virginia, where she attended public schools and later, the state Normal School. She worked as a teacher until her marriage (married women were prohibited by law from teaching), then turned her energies to the promotion of black businesses and employment, especially for black women, via Richmond's mutual aid societies, which provided life insurance services and career assistance to members. The central organization, the Independent Order of St. Luke, elected Walker to the position of executive head of the organization in 1899. She increased the Order's income and gained the organization a presence in 22 states. Walker used the new funds and clout of St. Luke to launch a development plan for the creation of a newspaper, a bank, and a store. When the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank opened in 1903, Walker became the first woman bank president in the US. The bank later merged with two others to become Richmond's only black bank, and has operated continuously up to the present day.
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