Celebrate Black History
Maggie Lena Walker (July 15, 1867(4-7)-December 15, 1934) was an African American teacher and businesswoman. Walker was the first female bank president and the first woman to charter a bank in the United States. 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.
Maggie Lena Walker was born in Richmond, Virginia, just after the Civil War. Family tradition says that her father was Eccles Cuthbert, an Irish-born newspaperman. Her mother, Elizabeth Draper, married William Mitchell while they were both working in the home of Elizabeth Van Lew, a famous Union spy. He later became a waiter in one of the fashionable hotels in the city, but after only a few years was found drowned. Elizabeth Mitchell then supported her family by doing laundry. They lived in a small alley house shared with several relatives.
Despite her humble upbringing, in 1902, Maggie Lena Walker founded the St. Luke Herald to carry news of the Independent Order of St. Luke to local chapters and to help in its educational work. In 1903, she opened the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, of which she was president. By 1924, the bank served a membership of more than 50,000 in 1,500 local chapters. She also helped found the Richmond Council of Colored Women in 1912.
Mrs. Walker’s health gradually declined, and by 1928 she was using a wheelchair due to paralysis. Despite her physical limitations, she remained actively committed to her life’s work including serving as leader of the Independent Order of St. Luke and chairman of the bank until her death on December 15, 1934. She is buried in Richmond’s Evergreen Cemetery.
This Day In Black History (Feb. 17):
1. LEADER OF BLACK PANTHER PARTY BORN (1942) – Huey Percy Newton born in Monroe, Louisana. Newton was co-founder and leader of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, an African-American organization established to promote Black Power, civil rights and self-defense.
Newton was fatally shot in Oakland in 1989 after a long history of drug abuse and crime.
2. NBA STAR IS BORN (1958) – Fomer basketball champ Michael Jordan born in Brooklyn, New York. Jordan is proclaimed by the National Basketball Association (NBA) as the “greatest player of all time”.
Jordan was one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation, and was instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s.
His leaping ability, illustrated by performing slam dunks from the free throw line at Slam Dunk Contests, earned him the nicknames “Air Jordan” and “His Airness”. He also gained a reputation as one of the best defensive players in basketball. In 1991, he won his first NBA championship with the Bulls, and followed that achievement with titles in 1992 and 1993, securing a “three-peat”. Though Jordan abruptly left the NBA in October 1993 to pursue a career in baseball, he rejoined the Bulls in 1995 and led them to three additional championships (1996, 1997, and 1998) as well as an NBA-record 72 regular-season wins in the 1995–96 season. Jordan retired for a second time in 1999, but he returned for two more NBA seasons in 2001 as a member of the Washington Wizards.
3. VIRGNIA STATE SONG RETIRED (1997) – Virginia’s House of Delegates votes unanimously to retire the state song, “Carry me back to old virginia” hich glorifies slavery.