“I think that Maggie’s entire mission was to uplift African American women,” says Liza Mickens, the great-great-granddaughter of Maggie Lena Walker, the first Black woman to found and charter a bank in America.

Walker didn’t just make history as the first Black woman to own and charter her own bank, but she led a civil rights movement in Richmond, Virginia in the 1920s and was the largest employer of Black women in the area.

“I think her economic achievements are incredible,” said Mickens. “I’m not necessarily the most business savvy person, so I really just admire all of the political activism that she did. She was the first African-American woman to run for a statewide office in Virginia and till this day we have not seen another Black woman make it on a statewide ballot here in Virginia.”

Today, Mickens continues to do in her work with Vote Equality.

“I think that making sure that we are really in the political arena and making sure that we realize the true power of our vote,” continued Mickens. “African American women have always faced the double-edged sword of oppression and to really continue to make sure that we highlight those stories and uplift this group is something that’s really important to me.”

Now, Mickens and her family have joined forces with PayPal who is on a mission to uplift Black women and share the stories of hidden figures like Walker.


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“At a time when Black people in the United States were denied opportunities for wealth creation, Maggie Lena Walker made it her life’s mission to advocate for economic independence in her community,” said Dan Schulman, PayPal president, and CEO in an official statement. “Her story is one of perseverance, dedication, and bravery. In this spirit, we are honoring Walker and her contributions through an award program that recognizes inspiring women who are leading and advancing economic empowerment for underserved communities today.”

PayPal’s Maggie Lena Walker Award honors both the older generation like Walker, who have broken down barriers for underrepresented women while also acknowledging and celebrating the people who are coming up and doing great work.

Mickens says that she’s ecstatic that PayPal not only reached out to the family but that they’ve been a part of the entire process.

“It’s really great to be a part of the whole process for [the award] and everything that it stands for is aligned with what Maggie Walker started,” shared Mickens. “I think that this is a great opportunity to share her story because a lot of people aren’t aware of everything that Maggie Walker did, but also it’s amazing that PayPal is highlighting the stories of Black women doing the work in their communities. It really is, in a lot of situations, Black women doing the work so it’s incredible that they’re highlighting people who have been continuing the legacy that my great-great-grandmother began.”

This award is an extension of the online payment system’s mission to foster an inclusive economy and builds on its $535 million commitment to closing the racial wealth gap.

For more on the award, click here.