155th Birthday of Maggie L. Walker

07/15/2019

WHEREAS, in 1864, Maggie Lena Walker was born to a former slave and Church Hill mansion cook in Richmond, Virginia; and

WHEREAS, the young Ms. Walker grew up in a home between Broad and Marshall streets close to where a statue now stands in her honor; and

WHEREAS, Ms. Walker was educated and later taught grade school in Richmond’s public schools; and

WHEREAS, as a teenager, Ms. Walker joined the local council of the Independent Order of St. Luke, a fraternal burial society that cared for the elderly and encouraged self-help and integrity, and an organization in which Ms. Walker rose through the ranks and promoted throughout her life; and

WHEREAS, after the tragic loss of her husband, Mrs. Walker was left to singlehandedly raise her children and manage her household at 110 ½ East Leigh Street, which is now preserved as a National Historic Landmark through the National Park Service; and

WHEREAS, in 1902, Mrs. Walker established The St. Luke Herald, which served as an outreach publication for the Independent Order of St. Luke and which she used to spread her enthusiasm for financial literacy and investment; and

WHEREAS, just one year after launching the Herald, Mrs. Walker founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank and served as the first president, earning her recognition as the first woman to charter a bank in the United States; and

WHEREAS, in later years, Mrs. Walker was solicited to serve as chairwoman of the board of directors when St. Luke Penny merged with other Richmond banks to form The Consolidated Bank and Trust Company, which, until 2009, flourished as the oldest African American-operated bank in the United States; and

WHEREAS, in addition to her work to promote financial solvency, Mrs. Walker advocated for African American women’s rights as a board member of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), and the Virginia Industrial School for Girls, and as the vice president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); and

WHEREAS, Maggie Walker is remembered not only for her entrepreneurial success as an African American woman, but as a staunch advocate for civic engagement, and an inspiration to future leaders to harness their inner resolve despite racial and gender barriers; 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize July 15, 2019, as the 155th BIRTHDAY OF MAGGIE L. WALKER in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.