The Baroness of Banking

Maggie L. Walker Built It, Ran It, and Kept the Receipts

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This International Women’s Day, Wealthie shares the story of banking’s First Lady, Maggie Lena Walker.

Maggie Walker became the first woman in America to own and serve as president of a bank. Her St. Luke Penny Savings Bank opened its doors in Richmond, Virginia in 1903. It is still in operation today.

The bank served as an important lifeline within the community. By 1920, Penny Savings had issued more than 600 mortgages to Black families. It had also built up a significant African American staff. Ms. Walker understood the importance of financial access and independence in the ongoing quest for civil rights and equal opportunity.

And the bank was only one piece of this effort. Prior to opening her bank, Ms. Walker launched a community insurance company for women. She also launched the St. Luke Herald weekly newspaper, promoting economic empowerment in Black communities, civil rights, and justice.

Finally, this may sound familiar… Ms. Walker believed the best way to build financial independence was by STARTING EARLY. The St. Luke Penny Savings Bank handed out penny banks to kids to support their early savings habit. With their first 100 pennies saved, a kid could open a Penny Savings Bank deposit account.

Ms. Walker’s story is one worth celebrating on Women’s Day and every day. Check out Wealthie’s IG post for more on the Boss herself.