Faces of Our History: Annie M. Malone

Annie M. Turnbo-Malone

Annie Minerva Turnbo was born on August 9, 1869 to Robert and Isabella Turnbo in Metropolis, Illinois. After her and her 11 sibling lived together until their parents died, Annie was sent upstate to live with her oldest sister in Peoria.

Annie was interested in hair textures; she wanted to find a better way to take care of African American woman’s hair. In the early 1900s, she created different types of hair treatments, and was the first to patent a hot comb which came before an early employee of hers, Madam C.J. Walker. Annie and an assistant of hers went door to door selling hair care products she names “Poro”, which was West African and it meant physical and spiritual growth.

In 1917, Annie was extremely successful that she opened the 1st educational school that was dedicated to black cosmetology called Poro College; it was located in St. Louis.

Annie became a multi-millionaire by 1920s. In 1943, she was served with a lien by the IRS, and after fighting the lawsuit and she lost Poro to the government and it was taken over by others.

Annie died of a stroke on May 10, 1957.

She was overshadowed by Madam C.J. Walker, but she was the First African American female entrepreneur and she founded and developed a large and prominent commercial and educational enterprise dedicated to African American hair care. She was also an inventor and philanthropist.

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  1. Unknown Black Male

     /  February 14, 2012

    Great read.


  2. Definitely overshadowed by Madame Walker, cause I know that name like one of my kids. But I’d never heard of Annie Malone beforehand.

    Good stuff, Sunny.


  3. Ms. Nikks

     /  February 19, 2012

    I can’t imagine starting something and losing it like that and knowing back then I didn’t have a chance in hell of winning. This series of yours has me feeling very grateful that I’m in a place where I do have a fighting chance.


  4. We can use Malone’s life and legacy as a template for how we should address unemployment problems. She created an industry in spite of the barriers she faced and we can do the same today. Malone was so much larger than her beauty products or Children’s home. She gave her service to better the lives of her people through her generosity and philanthropy and provided opportunities that otherwise would have not happened. The Annie Malone Historical Society is quickly building up a coalition to get Malone’s name in our history books. She deserves the recognition and credit that has been given to Walker. Malone is the ORIGINAL FOUNDER of the black hair industry and the first black millionaire. Please share her life and legacy; go to the website http://www.anniemalonehistoricalsociety,org and Facebook.


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