Maggie Walker was definitely a pioneer. Not the sort of pioneer that took a covered wagon out into the wild in search for gold or farming land, but a pioneer in the history of civil rights and equality. Maggie Walker was the type of woman who would not take no for an answer, and would fight for the freedoms that America is known for.
From the time she was 14 years old, she was in a constant move forward by educating herself, working her way up working with the Order of St. Luke and eventually opened up a Penny Savings Bank in Richmond to help end the cycle of poverty for African Americans in Richmond. The home that she worked so hard to build and maintain is now a national historic monument as tribute to what she went through to make it in America.
This site and the historical facts surrounding the site are well worth the price of admission, and the home and area around the home are open to the public through a guided tour hosted by the National Park Service. I would highly recommend putting this tour high on your agenda.
Christian and I made the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site the first stop on our tour of Jackson Ward. It was the residence of the businesswoman and her family from 1904 to 1934. She started out as a teacher and opened up the first bank for the black community. The house, built in 1883 and expanded several times to its present 25 rooms, along with several adjacent buildings on Leigh and 2nd streets, is maintained by the National Park Service. It has been restored to its 1930s appearance and is furnished with Walker family pieces. It was state-of-the art for the time. In her later years, Maggie Walker was confined to a wheelchair due to diabetes and had to have a lift installed in the rear of the house. A park ranger gives a tour of the residence, and his knowledge of the area is that of a native Richmonder. Before the tour begins, there is a film that explains the life of Maggie Walker. Nine months later, Mark and I came here and we were guided by the same ranger as before.
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