In this episode, Shennette Garrett-Scott explores black financial innovation and its transformative impact on U.S. capitalism through the story of the St. Luke Bank in Richmond, Virginia: the first and only bank run by black women. Garrett-Scott chronicles both the bank’s success and the challenges this success wrought, including shedding light on the bureaucratic violence that targeted St. Luke’s and other black banks. including extralegal violence and aggressive oversight from state actors who saw black economic autonomy as a threat to both democratic capitalism and the social order. With painstaking detail, Garrett-Scott shows how the bank, under the leadership of president Maggie Lena Walker, fought racist and sexist assumptions about its main clientele, working-class black women, while engineering new ways to assess creditworthiness. Through the St. Luke Bank, Garrett-Scott gives black women in finance the attention they deserve.
Check out the episode here!
Shennette Garrett-Scott is Associate Professor of History and African American Studies at The University of Mississippi. She is the author of Banking on Freedom: Black Women in U.S. Finance Before the New Deal.