Maggie Lena Walker established the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, becoming the 1st female bank president of any race to charter a bank in the United States.
Walker was a teacher, businesswoman and banker. As a leader, she was very successful with the vision to make tangible improvements in the way of life for African Americans and women.
In Maggie’s honor Richmond Public Schools built a large brick high school adjacent to Virginia Union University. Maggie L. Walker High School was one of two schools in the area for black students, during the period of racial segregation in schools. The other was Armstrong High School. After generations of students spent their high-school years there, it was totally refurbished in the late 20th century to become the regional Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies.
The National Park Service operates the Maggie L. Walker Historical Site at the former Jackson Ward home. In 1978 the house was designated a National Historic Site and was opened as a museum in 1985. The site states that it “commemorates the life of a progressive and talented African-American woman. She achieved success in the world of business and finance as the first black woman in the United States to charter and serve as president of a bank, despite the many adversities. The site includes a visitor center detailing her life and the Jackson Ward community in which she lived and worked and her residence of thirty years.The house is restored to its 1930’s appearance with original Walker family pieces.”
The St. Luke Building held the offices of the Independent Order of St. Luke, and the office of Maggie L. Walker. The office is preserved as it was at the time of her death in 1934. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
A memorial is planned on Broad Street in Richmond, but there have been protests about its location due to the presence of a large, much beloved oak tree on the site of the planned memorial that would have to be cut down