Black History Month: Maggie L. Walker’s Historic Mission of Financial Empowerment

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.


Additional resources:

In this episode:

Shennette Garrett-Scott
Associate Professor
Texas A&M University

Evan Sparks
ABA Banking Journal