In the 1920s, 30s and 40s, with the new freedom came business and financial success for many women in Missouri.
One of the nation’s wealthiest African Americans was Annie Malone, founder and owner of Poro College, a cosmetics firm that started in St. Louis and later occupied an entire city block in Chicago.
You have heard of Oprah Winfrey? Sure, who hasn’t? How about Madam C.J. Walker? No brainer. I can see heads nodding up and down all over the place. How about Annie Malone? Blank stares. Silence. Crickets chirping. Never heard of her…
Yet, before Madam Walker, Rosa Parks, Mary McLeod Bethune, Oprah Winfrey or Cathy Hughes there was Annie Turnbo Malone (aka Annie Minerva Turnbo Pope Malone and Annie Minerva Turnbo Malone), a remarkable woman who made her mark during the early 20th century.
Malone is recorded as one of America’s first black female millionaire based on reports about her beauty and cosmetic enterprises — Poro — headquartered in St. Louis and Chicago. remarkable book about Poro College and Annie Malone
Annie Minerva Turnbo Malone (August 9, 1869—May 10, 1957) was an African-American businesswoman, educator, inventor and philanthropist.
Annie was two years younger than Madam C. J. Walker. She had launched her hair care business four years before Sarah Breedlove (later known as Madam C. J. Walker). In the early 1900s Madam Walker worked as a “Poro Agent” for Annie for about one year.
In the first three decades of the 20th century, she founded and developed a large and prominent commercial and educational enterprise centered around cosmetics for African-American women.
Annie was born in Metropolis, Illinois. She was the tenth of eleven children born to Robert Turnbo, a poor farmer, and Isabella Cook Turnbo.
Because her parents died when she was young, Annie was raised by her older sister in nearby Peoria, Illinois. She was a sickly child and missed a lot of school which resulted her in having to withdraw before completing high school.
While she was coming of age, the popular style among Black women was that of a “straight hair” look.
Black women were starting to turn their backs on the braided cornrow styles and began to embrace a look which, for them meant, freedom and progression in America.