In honor of Black History Month, I've decided to highlight notable black women entrepreneurs. This week is all about Maggie Lena Walker.
Maggie Lena Walker was born July 15, 1867 in Richmond, VA. The daughter of former slaves, Walker attended the Lancaster School and the Armstrong Normal School. She graduated in 1883 and taught at the Lancaster School until she married in 1886. Walker also served as an agent for an insurance company, the Woman's Union.
Since the age of 14, she was a member of the Grand United Order of St. Luke, an African-American fraternal and cooperative insurance society founded in Baltimore in 1867 by a former slave, Mary Prout; headquaters were established in Richmond in 1889. Walker worked her way up to become the executive secretary-treasurer in 1899; the organization was renamed the Independent Order of St. Luke.
Walker began publishing a newsletter in 1902, the St. Luke Herald; its purpose was to increase awareness of the organization's activities and to help in the educational work of the order. The next year, she opened the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank and became its president. The bank's goal was to facilitate loans to the community, and by 1920, the bank helped purchase about 600 homes. She served as president of the bank until 1932 which made her the first (known) woman president of a bank in the U.S.
Additionally, Walker helped found the Richmond Council of Colored Women in 1912 and served as its president, and she cofounded the Richmond branch of the NAACP.
Walker passed in Richmond in 1934. The house her family occupied from 1904 to 1934 is now a Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site.
"If a solution isn't enduring, it's not really a solution. In process automation, we need enduring systems and solutions that become standards in their own right."
- Maggie Lena Walker
[Source; Photo Credit]