15 new state historical highway markers approved including one honoring Maggie Walker

Positively Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) approved 15 new state historical markers for roads across the commonwealth — including one location in Richmond honoring Maggie Lena Walker. 

Born in Richmond after the Civil War, Walker became the first black woman to charter a bank and serve as its president. She devoted her life to economic empowerment and equal educational rights for African Americans and women. 

“Maggie Walker was a leader that all could turn when things needed to get done,” said Ajena Rogers, Supervisory Ranger at the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site. “She had personal and physical tragedies, yet she always kept faith and hope and encouraged others.” 

Jennifer Loux with DHR said the agency aims to make the program more diverse. 

“The more we can educate people, especially about people and topics that have been ignored through our program over the years, the more we can build a common understanding of Virginia’s history,” said Loux, with the Virginia Departmrent of History Resources. 

It has not yet been decided where the marker will stand, but Loux said it should erected by 2021. 

A marker honoring Maggie Lena Walker will be put up in the city of Richmond. It will read:

“Maggie Walker, an African American entrepreneur and civil rights activist, promoted economic empowerment for the Black community. In 1899 she was elected head of the Independent Order of Saint Luke, a mutual aid society and insurance company facing a dwindling membership. Under her leadership, the organization grew to more than 100,000 members. Walker founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in 1903, becoming the first Black woman in the U.S. to establish and serve as president of a bank. She helped organize a major boycott of Richmond’s segregated streetcars in 1904 and served on the national boards of the NAACP and the National Association of Colored Women.”

Other new markers include:

  • Bath County: West Warm Springs, a community that began after the Civil War when African Americans bough land on the slope of Little Mountain.
    • There will be a second marker about the courthouse of Warm Springs.
  • Charlotte County: Joseph R. Holmes, he was born a salve but after the emancipation served as a delegate to the Virginia National Party Conventions in  1867 and 1869. He was assassinated by four white men who were charged but never tried.
  • Hampton: Coleman Goble Johnson (1918-2020), a mathematician who was one of the African American women featured in the 2016 book and movie Hidden Figures
  • Hopewell: Kippax Plantation, a plantation that was started in the late 1600s, and was situation near a Native American trade route.
  • Loudoun County:
  • Lynchburg: Elizabeth Langhorne Lewis (1851-1946), an influential women’s suffrage activists in Virginia.
  • Lynchburg: Sallie Blount Mahood (1864-1953), a landscape and portrait painter who’s art is in museums and other public buildings around the commonwealth.
  •  Lynchburg: Helen McGehee (1921-2020), an internationally acclaimed dancer, choreographer and teachers.
  • Lynchburg:  Lucy Harrison Miller Baber (1908-1996), who helped overhaul Virginia’s juvenile justice system in the mid-20th century.
  • Norfolk: Evelyn Thomas Butts (1924-1993), an activists who initiated a federal lawsuit against Virginia’s poll tax.
  • James City County: Angelo (fl. 1619-1625), one of the first documents Africans to arrive in Virginia in 1619.
  • Williamsburg: Gowan Pamphlet (ca. 1748-ca. 1809), a Baptist preacher who lead secret religious gathers for enslaved and free African Americans.
  • Shenandoah County: Creative Women of Fishers Hill, is in honor of three women who achieved national prominence for their creative endeavors, but were later largely forgotten.

The announcement from the Board of Historic Resources said after approval, it can take up to three months or more before a new marker is ready to be dedicated.

For more information about the Highway Marker Program visit the Historic Resources Department’s website.

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