Maggie Lena Walker was an African American entrepreneur and civic leader. Walker was the first woman bank president in the United States.
Maggie Walker was born in 1867 in Richmond, Virginia. Her mother, Elizabeth Draper, married William Mitchell while they were both working in the home of Elizabeth Van Lew, a famous Union spy. A few years later William was found drowned. Elizabeth supported her family by doing laundry. Maggie had to help her mother.
In 1886 she married Armstead Walker and gave birth to three sons, one of whom died in infancy. In 1915 her husband Armstead was shot and killed by their son, Russell, who mistook his father for a burglar.
While she was still in high school Walker joined the Independent Order of St. Luke, which helped African Americans take care of the sick and bury the dead. In 1899, Walker became Grand Secretary Treasurer of the St. Luke organization. She liked to describe the order as a woman’s organization that gave equal opportunity to men.