Maggie Lena (Mitchell) Walker

Born: 7/15/1867
Birthplace: Richmond, Va.

Walker, the daughter of former slaves, worked from a young age. When her father died, Walker helped her mother run her laundry business. She joined the Independent Order of St. Luke (IOSL) at age 14. The organization was a fraternal order that provided health care for ailing African Americans and helped families make burial arrangements. It also promoted racial solidarity.

Walker graduated from Richmond's Armstrong Normal School in 1883 and took a teaching job at the Lancaster School. In 1886 she married Armistead Walker, Jr., a building contractor.

She took a position as the executive secretary-treasurer of the debt-ridden IOSL in 1889. In 1902 Walker began publishing the St. Luke Herald, a newsletter to publicize the group's mission. Under her guidance the IOSL prospered, and she established the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in 1903. She served as president of the bank, which made loans to members of the black community. By 1920, the bank had financed the purchase of about 600 homes. The St. Luke Penny Savings Bank merged with the Second Street Savings Bank and became the Consolidated Bank and Trust Company in 1930. Walker served as its chairman of the board.

Walker was also a founder and president of the Richmond Council of Colored Women, a member of the National Association of Wage Earners, the National Urban League, and a cofounder of the Richmond branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

She had three sons, one of whom died in infancy. In 1915, her son Russell mistook his father for an intruder and shot and killed him.

Died: 12/15/1934
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