Maggie Lena Walker St Luke Penny Savings Bank

Women’s History Month – Maggie Lena Walker

Arvette M. Reid shares her favorite person in history

Maggie Lena Walker
Maggie Lena Walker, Arvette’s aunt

Arvette’s favorite person in history is a family member, an Aunt on her Mother’s side. Her name is Maggie Lena Walker, the first woman and the first African American to charter a bank in the United States. Aunt Maggie was born and raised in Richmond, where Arvette’s parents are also from.

When Arvette first started working a SEIA, before she got her Series 65 license, she would often say, “I’m not a financial person. I’m a healthcare person.” Then one day, when Tom and Arvette were talking about the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Arvette mentioned a floor-to-ceiling exhibit about her Aunt Maggie, founder and owner of St. Luke Penny Savings Bank that opened in Richmond in 1903. Tom laughed and said to Arvette, “Yeah, and you don’t like finances. Look at your Aunt. Look at your bloodline. It’s in your genes.” He was right. Arvette is now a licensed financial professional.

Arvette M. Reid in front of Aunt Maggie's statue in Richmond, VA
Arvette M. Reid in front of Aunt Maggie’s statue in Richmond, VA

In addition to being an entrepreneur, Maggie Lena Walker (1864-1934) was a civil rights leader and highly involved in her community. She created several programs to support blacks during segregation and created specific programs to help the elderly. While growing up, both of Arvette’s parents were very active in the local community, and she credits her Mom’s commitment to activism to the example set by Aunt Maggie.

Arvette believes she got her passion for helping seniors through the family bloodline. She found herself extremely comfortable interacting with seniors and the healthcare system at a young age. Now, Arvette finds it fulfilling watching her children help others as part of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Her kids believe that they can dream big, and both take pride in being related to Aunt Maggie.

two women statues in Richmond Virginia
Library of Virginia historians Mari Julienne and Barbara Batson took this photo

Arvette is proud to see others continue to embrace Aunt Maggie’s legacy. In addition to the exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum, Maggie’s childhood home is a historic site as part of the National Park Service, the Virginia Department of Education includes Maggie Lena Walker in the 4th-grade curriculum, and there is a prestigious Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School. There is also a statue located in Maggie L. Walker Memorial Plaza in downtown Richmond. And in May 2022, two final statues were installed at the Virginia Women’s Monument on Capitol Square—physician Sarah G. Jones and banker and civil rights activist Maggie Walker.

That’s a great person to celebrate during Women’s History Month. #womenshistory #womenshistorymonth #maggielenawalker #richmondva