The modern black community has complained time and time again about discriminating lending practices of banks and lending institutions in this country, but who is going to do something about it?
We hoped bringing light to the story, achievement and life of Maggie Lena Walker might inspire someone in the community to stand up and take action. We don’t have to be victims of predatory lending practices if we band together, pool our economic resources, spend our trillion dollars annually with one another, support and open banks of our own.
Despite the fact there are 21 black owned and operated banks in the United States of America, the black community is still hurting for financing and economic empowerment. Well, maybe it is time to follow in the foot steps of Maggie Lena Walker and start more of our own banks.
In 1903 she founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank. Mrs. Walker served as the bank’s first president, which earned her the recognition of being the first woman to charter a bank in the United States. Later she agreed to serve as chairman of the board of directors when the bank merged with two other Richmond banks to become The Consolidated Bank and Trust Company. The bank thrives today as the oldest continually African American-operated bank in the United States. Its headquarters are currently located across the street from its original site at the corner of First and Marshall streets in Richmond. [source: National Park Service]
Mrs. Walker is clearly cut from a different fabric as she was not only a very successful entrepreneur, but she had the awareness and fortitude to continue to fight for the struggle of African Americans. This is something many of us, modern day African Americans, have lost.
Not only did she start a bank, but she created a media communication tool to knit the community closer together as well and had the vision to pool economic resources and allow the usury to benefit the themselves and the community.
In 1902 Mrs. Walker established a newspaper, The St. Luke Herald, to promote closer communication between the Order and the public. In speeches Mrs. Walker had reasoned, “Let us put our money together; let us use our money; Let us put our money out at usury among ourselves, and reap the benefit ourselves.” as active in civic groups.
She didn’t stop there. She was a chief advocate for African American women’s rights, worked tirelessly with women, President of the NAACP chapter in her area and was on the national board, and many other organizations and efforts.
It is our dream the modern day African American return to the glory, power, pride, and achievement Mrs. Walker represents.