Maggie L. Walker Maggie L. Walker Maggie L. Walker Maggie L. Walker

Maggie Lena Walker Portraits

"I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth but a laundry basket practically on my head.” - Maggie Lena Walker

Mrs. Walker, beloved African-American entrepreneur, community leader, and civil rights activist was born on July 15, 1864 in Richmond, Virginia, capital of the Confederacy.  Her mother, Elizabeth Draper, a former slave, worked for abolitionist Elizabeth Van Lew, Richmond’s most notorious Union spy during the Civil War.  Mrs. Walker’s biological father, a 22-year old Irish immigrant, Eccles Cuthbert, was a Confederate soldier and nurse at Richmond’s Chimborazo Hospital complex.  In 1868, when Ms. Draper married a fellow Van Lew servant, William Mitchell, her daughter took his name. After Mitchell’s murder in 1876, to make ends meet, his widow washed laundry with the help of her children. .

After graduating from Richmond Colored Normal School in 1883, Maggie Mitchell taught for three years at a public middle school. Her marriage to a local businessman, Armstead Walker, ended her teaching career, as married female teachers were required to tender their resignation.  More...

Maggie L. Walker Image Collection
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