BUSINESS & MANAGEMENT

Banking on Freedom: Black Women in U.S. Finance Before the New Deal

Columbia Univ. May 2019. 288p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780231183918. pap. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780231545211. BUS
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OrangeReviewStarGarrett-Scott (history & African American studies, Univ. of Mississippi) writes a detailed, historical account of the evolution of the St. Luke Bank in Richmond, VA, that was formed by African American women in 1903. The bank later merged with two other local institutions to become Consolidated Bank & Trust Company, and served African Americans for over 100 years. With five chapters covering differing time periods in the bank's development, Garrett-Scott describes how women such as Maggie Lena Walker battled prejudice, gender discrimination, and institutional racism in an effort to help their community achieve financial literacy. Like many banks owned and organized by African Americans, this institution emerged from burial societies and survived competition from overzealous regulatory surveillance and financial crises, such as the Great Depression. Walker, whose mother had been born into slavery, was a pivotal figure in this bank's growth. She is recognized as the first U.S. woman to charter a bank and as the first African American woman to become president of a bank.
VERDICT Given the few historical treatments of black women is business, this book is long overdue. It will appeal to all interested in U.S. and African American history.

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