As a civil rights activist and pioneering entrepreneur, Maggie Lena Walker (1864-1934) devoted herself to uplifting the African American community in Richmond, VA and in the nation at large. Mrs. Walker often highlighted her own success, inspiring other African Americans, especially women, to achieve their potential amidst the daunting oppression of Jim Crow America. Through portraits and possessions, this exhibit spotlights Walker's model of sophistication, poise, and pride.
In addition to her personal appearance, Maggie L. Walker's home and furnishings reflected her status as an inspirational public figure.
Seated in the middle of “Quality Row” - an affluent stretch of Richmond's African American Jackson Ward neighborhood - her family townhouse welcomed visitors of all walks of life.
Mrs. Walker modernized her home with electricity, indoor plumbing, and steam heat, and decorated it with contemporary and classical furniture styles.
The home was a testament to Walker's success story: the daughter of a former slave who rose to prominence on the national landscape.
“I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth but with a clothes basket almost upon my head. I have come up on the rough side of the mountain.” - Maggie L. Walker, 1907
The Independent Order of St. Luke Matrons presented Mrs. Walker with this elegant silver-plated tea set. It carries an inscription that reads "Matrons of Richmond/I-O-St. Luke -- /to Maggie Walker"
Exhibit Developer: Ethan P. Bullard, Curator, Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site
Photographer: Carol M. Highsmith
Photographer: Harpers Ferry Center Digital Imaging Project