Happy Birthday, Maggie Lena Walker
Like her contemporary, Booker T. Washington, Walker often sang the praises of thrift. She called on blacks to emulate “the wealthiest men” of Richmond who accumulated vast bank accounts with “simply a dollar or two to which they constantly added.” Walker regarded the advancement of black women as precondition for collective and political advancement, but said they could never reach their potential so long as a husband could “lord it over, or dominate the wife.” She considered equal marriages to be a prerequisite to building entrepreneurship. Walker asked: “What stronger combination could God make-then the partnership of a businessman and businesswoman[?]”
Walker was an energetic participant in a valiant rear guard action against disfranchisement and Jim Crow. In 1904, she was a leader in protests against a law that segregated streetcars in Richmond. From 1923 until her death in 1934, she served on the board of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Partly because of her efforts, by the 1920s about 80 percent of eligible black voters were women. The bank she founded, now called the Bank and Trust Company of Richmond, still exists today and has assets of over $100 million.
I discuss Walker in From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State: Fraternal Societies and Social Services, 1890-1967 . She is also the subject of a new biography by Muriel Miller Branch and Dorothy Marie Rice, Pennies to Dollars: The Story of Maggie Lena Walker.
comments powered by Disqus
David T. Beito - 7/17/2005
She wrote at least a couple of things that are now available. There is also anoher recent biography which I had missed:
Kenneth R Gregg - 7/16/2005
Thanks for posting, David!
She must have been a truly remarkable person. Do you know if there are any writings by her that are currently available?
Just a thought.