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  • Writer's pictureKimberly Renee

Maggie Lena Walker | First Black Woman to Found a Bank

Updated: Feb 5



More than fifteen years before women had the right to vote, Maggie Lena Walker (1864-1934) became the first Black woman to start a bank in the United States.


Maggie was born to enslaved parents in Richmond, Virginia.


From a young age, Maggie demonstrated a keen interest in mathematics and economics. At 14, she began working with the Independent Order of St. Luke where she'd eventually help produce their newspaper—a vehicle through which she encouraged Black Americans to start businesses.


Ever passionate about the importance of building wealth as a means of freedom, Maggie felt that the Black community needed a bank specifically designed to support their needs. In 1903, she established the Saint Luke Penny Savings Bank, serving as the bank's president.


In 1908, Maggie joined the Virginia State Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, an organization where she would remain active until her death. In 1912, Walker served as the founding president of the Richmond Council of Colored Women, another organization dedicated to improving the lives of Black women.


The bank that Walker chartered remained active under the name Consolidated Bank and Trust Company until 2011, making it the longest-running, continuously operational, Black-owned bank in the United States at the time. The bank is no longer Black-owned and has since merged with Premier Bank.


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