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Posts Tagged ‘Black Women’s History’

We have been doing a series on amazing black women FIRSTS. We have admiration for Bessie Coleman, early pilot, daredevil and stunt flyer; Mary McLeod Bethune, educator and leader; Mae Jemison – first female black astronaut; Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson – achievements in the space industry and instrumental in getting the first Americans in space and on the moon; Madame C. J. Walker, entrepreneur and philanthropist; Ida B. Wells, first woman to challenge the bigotry of the transportation system by boarding a train in the ‘white’ section in 1884. Rosa Parks challenged the ‘Jim Crow’ laws in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat to a white person on a bus. These women were all very great women of courage and much to be admired.

We must include the story of Maggie Lena Walker – the first woman bank president in the United States. Maggie was also a caring Christian woman whose work enabled many black people to lead better, happier lives. She is especially remembered for her concern for the welfare of black youth.

Maggie Lena Draper was born on July 15, 1864 in Richmond, Virginia to Elizabeth Draper, a former slave. Maggie attended the Richmond Colored Normal School, dedicated to the education of black children. It was while attending this school that Maggie joined the order of St. Luke’s.

Maggie married Armstead Walker, Jr. in 1886. Maggie and Armstead has three sons; tragically baby Armstead died while still an infant. Melvin and Russell were born later.

In 1901 Maggie became the grand secretary of the Independent Order of St. Luke, an organization dedicated to the social and financial advancement of blacks. When Maggie joined St. Luke’s it was struggling financially. With her incredible abilities, Maggie turned it around and made it into a flourishing organization.

Maggie made the organization a success by doing these things:

In 1902 she founded a newspaper, the St. Luke Herald to spread the to local chapters and to help with the educational work.

In 1903 she opened the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank. She remained the president until 1929. Under Maggie’s leadership the bank served a membership of over 50,000 in 1500 local chapters. Though many other banks failed during the Great Depression, Maggie kept her back alive by merging with two other banks in 1929.

In 1905 she opened the St. Luke Emporium, a department store that offered employment to black people along with a source of less expensive goods.

While doing all of this Maggie was active in social work. She took part in many educational efforts.

In 1925 in recognition of her efforts in the spiritual, civic, industrial and fraternal forces of the community and at large, the Virginia Union University awarded the honorary degree of Master of Science to Maggie.

For the last few years of her life, Maggie Walker was ill and confined to a wheelchair. She died from the complications of diabetes on December 15, 1934 at age 70. She is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Richmond. In 1979 her home on East Leigh St. was purchased by the National Parks Service and became a National Historic Site.

 

 

I am so happy to put links to pictures of Maggie Lena Walker. Go to these links for her amazing story. Both productions are beautiful and interesting.

“Maggie Lena Walker”, by Marion Newton, YouTube, 11 minutes, 30 seconds.

Published on Oct 1, 2015

The First Black Woman in the United States to become a president of a local bank, Maggie’s story is told in “her voice” by a narrator. There are many great quotes. The pictures tell the story in a very memorable way. Her Christian faith became the most important thing in her life.

https://youtu.be/iRVHvWchnXI

Another great link:

“Carry On: The Life and Legacy of Maggie Lena Walker”

https://youtu.be/QR3CexPZXEk

 

 

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