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African-American Businesswomen in the Jim Crow Era

Entrepreneur and social activist Maggie Lena Walker"s famous quote is "I am of the opinion [that] if we can catch the vision, in a few years we shall be able to enjoy the fruits from this effort and its attendant responsibilities, through untold benefits reaped by the youth of the race."

As the first American woman--of any race--to be a bank president, Walker was a trailblazer. She  inspired many African-American men and women to become self-sufficient entrepreneurs.

As a follower of Booker T. Washington’s philosophy of "cast down your bucket where you are," Walker was a lifelong resident of Richmond, working to bring change to African-Americans throughout Virginia.

In 1902, Walker established the St. Luke Herald, an African-American newspaper in Richmond.

Following the financial success of the St. Luke Herald, Walker established the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank.

Walker became the first women in the United States to found a bank.

The purpose of the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank was to provide loans to members of the African-American community. In 1920, the bank helped members of the community buy at least 600 houses in Richmond. The success of the bank helped the Independent Order of St. Luke continue to grow. In 1924, it was reported that the order had 50,000 members, 1500 local chapters, and estimated assets of at least $400,000.

During the Great Depression, St. Luke Penny Savings merged with two other banks in Richmond to become The Consolidated Bank and Trust Company. 

 African-American women used to put ingredients such as goose fat, heavy oils and other products to on their hair as a styling method. Their hair might have appeared shiny but these ingredients were damaging their hair and scalp. Years before Madam C.J. Walkerbegan selling her products, Annie Turnbo Malone invented a hair care product line that revolutionized African-American hair care.

After moving to Lovejoy, Illinois, Malone created a line of hair straighteners, oils and other products that promoted hair growth. Naming the

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