America’s first woman to charter a bank statue breaks ground

Pictured from (l): J. Maurice Hopkins of the Maggie Walker High School Class of 1965; City Councilman Chris A. Hilbert; Mrs. Walker’s great-great-grandson, Diallo Brooks of Washington; Gov. Terry McAuliffe; Mayor Dwight C. Jones; Mrs. Walker’s great-grandson, and Johnny Mickens III of Richmond.

Pictured from (l): J. Maurice Hopkins of the Maggie Walker High School Class of 1965; City Councilman Chris A. Hilbert; Mrs. Walker’s great-great-grandson, Diallo Brooks of Washington; Gov. Terry McAuliffe; Mayor Dwight C. Jones; Mrs. Walker’s great-grandson, and Johnny Mickens III of Richmond.

RICHMOND, Va. — A large group proudly prepared the ground and officially launched development of the downtown plaza where a statue to Richmond pioneering businesswoman Maggie L. Walker will stand this week.

Maggie Lena Walker (July 15, 1864–Dec. 15, 1934) was an African American teacher and businesswoman. In 1903, Walker was the first female bank president of any race to charter a bank in the United States.

Maggie_L._Walker_of_Richmond,_Virginia_in_1913

Maggie Lena Walker (1864–1934) of Richmond, Virginia, first Black woman to form a bank in the United States. (photo courtesy Trice Edney News Wire from the Richmond Free Press)

As a leader, she achieved successes with the vision to make tangible improvements in the way of life for African Americans and women. Disabled by paralysis and limited to a wheelchair later in life, Walker also became an example for people with disabilities.

In 1902, she published a newspaper for the organization, The St. Luke Herald. Shortly after, she chartered the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank. Mrs. Walker served as the bank’s first president, which earned her the recog nition of being the first Black 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, which grew to serve generations of Richmond residents as an African American owned institution.

City resident Melvin Jones, Jr. has been pushing to get the statue for over five years.

“Everything I’m getting from the public is support,” he said. “Ms. Walker was a real entrepreneur for everybody—for women of color and for anybody.”

Walker ran her bank at First and Marshall Streets and also maintained a business on Broad Street. Because of her legacy, Jones believes she deserves a memorial.

The statue will be located on Broad and Adams streets. The city is investing nearly $1 million to create the statue and plaza to honor Mrs. Walker.