In 1903, Maggie Lena Walker became the first Black woman to charter a U.S. bank when she opened the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in Richmond, Virginia, as the bank’s first president. In a classic replay episode of the ABA Banking Journal Podcast — sponsored by xChange — historian Shennette Garrett-Scott tells the story of Walker and her mission to help Black women find financial empowerment and professional career opportunities.
Garrett-Scott, the author of Banking on Freedom: Black Women in U.S. Finance Before the New Deal, discusses:
- How Walker countered impressions that Black women were uniquely risky bank clients.
- The broader context of African-American banks and what set Walker’s St. Luke Bank apart.
- The relationships between Black banks and mutual aid societies and fraternal organizations like the Independent Order of St. Luke.
- How newly professionalized Progressive Era financial regulators threw up hurdles to Black-owned banks and insurers.
- The St. Luke Bank’s relationships with white-owned banks in Richmond and elsewhere.
If you can’t see the audio player above, click here to listen to this episode.
This episode is sponsored by xChange.
- Read a past Banking Journal feature on Walker as one of nine young bankers who changed America.
- Read a Wall Street Journal article on Walker’s legacy.
- View a virtual tour of Walker’s home in Richmond.
In this episode: