JAMES CLINGMAN

(TriceEdneyWire.com)—“Do you ask what we can do?  Unite and build a store of your own.  Do you ask where is the money?  We have spent more than enough for nonsense.”—Maria Stewart

“When it comes to success the choice is simple. You can either stand up and be counted or lie down and be counted out!”—Maggie Lena Walker

“Let the Afro-American depend on no party, but on himself, for his salvation.  Let him continue toward education, and above all, put money in his purse.”—Ida B. Wells

Over the years, many Black women have stood, spoken out and fought against mistreatment; they have also advocated for Black people to use our economic resources to empower ourselves and propel us on to self-sufficiency.  Last week, I selected three strong Black men, this week it’s three strong Black women.

Maria Stewart was an educator, abolitionist and author, but she was also an advocate for Black self-sufficiency. A contemporary and personal friend of David Walker, author of “David Walker’s Appeal,” Maria, spoke passionately to our people in attempts to guide us from dependency to independence.  “Her dedication to fighting Black oppression through teaching, writing, and speaking was relentless. (PBS.org)”  It took strength to shoulder and promote the issues Maria fielded in the mid-1860s.  She is one of many in the pantheon of Black women who were not timid when it came to espousing her beliefs in support of Black people.

Maggie Lena Walker was the first female to charter and successfully preside over a bank, the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, in Richmond, Va. Maggie founded the St. Luke Herald newsletter and she opened a department store for Black women in 1905.  She ran for superintendent of Public Instruction on the Republican ballot, but was defeated and was instrumental in keeping her bank open through the great depression by merging it with two other banks in 1929.  Cooperative economics?  Strategic alliance?  Working collectively for the good of the whole?  Sound familiar?  Maggie’s spirited and determined leadership takes a backseat to no one and should be held up as an example of what we must do, even today, to help ourselves.

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