An African-American woman whose mother was a former slave and whose father is said to have been an Irish immigrant.
Maggie Lena Walker, who began working as a child, helping her mother wash clothes in an alleyway in Richmond, Virginia; was the first woman, black or white, to launch a financial institution for African-Americans. She overcame not only the oppression of the racist Jim Crow Era, but even defeated the prevalent sexism of the day that purposefully excluded women as viable economic forces.
This African-American visionary was often quoted as saying, , "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."
She practiced what she preached by only employing African-Americans within a variety of roles from butler to architect throughout her life. Walker note only owned a bank, but she established a newspaper, The St. Luke Herald, in 1902, and served as one of the national leaders for the St. Luke’s fraternal burial society, which supported the sick and elderly within the African-American community before social security or welfare programs were established.