32 minutes | Feb 17th 2021

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. On the latest episode of the ABA Banking Journal Podcast — sponsored by NICE Actimize Xceed — 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. This episode is sponsored by NICE Actimize Xceed. Additional resources: 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.
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