Maggie Lena Walker devoted her life to civil rights advancement, economic empowerment, and educational opportunities for Jim Crow-era African Americans and women.
When she was fourteen years old, young Maggie joined the local council of the Independent Order of St. Luke.
This fraternal burial society, established in 1867 in Baltimore, Maryland, administered to the sick and aged, promoted humanitarian causes and encouraged individual self-help and integrity. She served in numerous capacities of increasing responsibility for the Order, from that of a delegate to the biannual convention to the top leadership position of Right Worthy Grand Secretary in 1899, a position she held until she died.
In 1902, she published a newspaper for the organization, The St. Luke Herald. Shortly after, she chartered the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank. Walker served as the bank's first president, which earned her the recognition of being the first African American woman to charter a bank in the United States.
The St. Luke Penny Savings Bank's leadership also included several female board members. Later Walker agreed to serve as chairman of the board of directors when the bank merged with two other Richmond banks to become The Consolidated Bank and Trust Company, which grew to serve generations of Richmonders as an African-American owned institution.
Walker received an honorary master's degree from Virginia Union University in 1925, and was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 2001.
As a bank president, newspaper editor, and fraternal leader, Walker served as an inspiration of pride and progress. Today, Walker’s home is preserved as a tribute to her enduring legacy of vision, courage, and determination.