Before Oprah Winfrey and Madame C.J. Walker, there was Annie Turnbo Malone (aka Annie Minerva Turnbo Pope Malone and Annie Minerva Turnbo Malone), an African American entrepreneur and philanthropist during the early 20th century.
Malone is recorded as the U.S.’s first Black woman millionaire based on reports of $14 million in assets held in 1920 from her beauty and cosmetic enterprises, headquartered in St. Louis and Chicago.
On August 9, 1869, Robert Turnbo and Isabella Cook became parents to Annie in Metropolis, Illinois. Annie attended school in Illinois where she apprentenced with her sister as a hairdresser. By 1889, Malone had developed her own scalp and hair products that she demonstrated and sold from a buggy throughout Illinois.
By 1902, Malone’s business growth led her to St. Louis, Missouri, which at the time held the fourth largest population of African Americans. In St. Louis she copyrighted her Poro brand beauty products. In 1914, in a St. Louis wedding, Malone married the school principal Aaron Eugene Malon.
By 1917, Malone opened the doors of Poro College, a beauty college which was later attended by Madam C.J. Walker. The school reportedly graduated about 75,000 agents world-wide, including the Caribbean. By 1930, the first full year of the Great Depression, Malone had moved from Missouri after divorcing her second husband and settled on Chicago’s South Side.
To read more, go to: Black History Heroes: Annie Turnbo Malone: A Black Philanthropist and Entrepreneur