Walker was born to enslaved parents on July 15, 1864 in Richmond, Virginia.When Walker was 14, she joined the Independent Order of St. Luke’s, an African American benevolent organization that helped the sick and elderly in Richmond. Within the organization, Walker held many high-ranking positions. In 1902, she began publishing the organization’s newspaper, The St. Luke Herald. She encouraged African Americans in Richmond to harness their economic power by establishing their own institutions through the newspaper.
Walker had always focused her efforts on accounting and math. Her first business endeavor was a community insurance company for women. From there, she continued her entrepreneurial pursuits. In 1903, she founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank. Walker was the first woman of any race to charter a bank in the United States. The bank was a powerful representation of black self-help in the segregated South. The Penny Savings Bank not only attracted adults but Walker worked to appeal to children by passing out banks that encouraged them to save their money.
In 1915, she continued working for the Order of St. Luke’s but also held leadership positions in other civic organizations, including the National Association of Colored Women (NACW). She also served as the Vice President of the Richmond chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
By 1924, the Penny Savings Bank had spread to other parts of Virginia and included more than 50,000 members. While other banks collapsed during the Great Depression St. Luke’s Penny Saving survived. The bank eventually consolidated with two other large banks and moved to downtown Richmond. It is still in operation today.
According to en.wikipedia.org; womenshistory.org. Source of photos: internet