Monday, August 26, 2013


We have become so accustomed to being mislead about our history and heritage until it is no wonder that many African Americans believe that Koreans or others are the founders of our Black hair industry, and therefore, they choose to patronize those businesses rather than our Black-owned businesses.  But thanks to organizations like the Black Owned Beauty Supply Ass. (BOBSA) and the Annie Malone Historical Society, we now know the truth!  How did we allow this to happen?  Read below how it was Annie Turnbo Malone, not Madame C.J. Walker, Koreans, L’Oreal, Proctor & Gamble, Revlon, Alberto Culver, or Clairol, who started the Black hair industry.

Annie Turnbo Malone—The Original Founder of the Black Hair Care Industry,

the First Black Female Millionaire in the U.S., Inventor, Businesswoman, and Philanthropist.

Annie Turnbo Malone developed her business into the Poro System, a network of 75,000 franchised agent-operators who operated salons under Malone's guidelines using Poro products. The word "poro" is a West African term that denotes an organization whose aim is to discipline and enhance the body in both physical and spiritual form.  Hence, Malone dedicated her life’s services to humanity by uplifting her Race when she created an industry that improved the lives of African Americans forever.

Malone's dramatic rise in the hair-care field has often been overshadowed by that of one of her former employees, Madame C. J. Walker, but it was Malone, historians assert, who developed the first successful formulas and marketing strategies aimed at straightening African American hair without damaging it. By the turn of the century (1900), Malone had developed a variety of treatments and was the first to patent the hot comb (before Madame Walker). One of her products was called the Wonderful Hair Grower, and it is thought that around this time Malone invented the pressing iron and comb, a hair-straightening device.

She founded Poro College in 1917 in St. Louis, MO.  It was the first school in the U.S. dedicated for the training of beauty culture specialists for African American clientele and was also actively involved in numerous philanthropic organizations. It was a large, lavish facility that included well-equipped classrooms, an auditorium, an ice cream parlor and bakery, and a theater--as well as the manufacturing facilities for Poro products. Office space housed several prominent local and national African American organizations, and the college was soon a center of activity and influence in St. Louis's African American community; it also provided a large number of jobs. The college itself offered training courses for women interested in joining the Poro System's franchised agent-operator network. To Malone, deportment and appearance were as crucial to success as hair-care knowledge, and such specifics were an integral part of the curriculum.  

Despite Malone’s wealth, she lived conservatively and gave away much of her fortune to help other African Americans. She is one of America’s first major black philanthropists. Malone donated large sums to countless charities. At one time, it is believed that she was supporting two full-time students in every black land-grant college in the United States. She gave $25,000 to the Howard University Medical School during the 1920s.  Malone also donated $25,000 to help build the St. Louis Colored YWCA.  She contributed to several orphanages and donated the site for the St. Louis Colored Orphans’ Home. She raised most of the orphanage’s construction costs and served on the home’s executive board from 1919 to 1943. 

Malone's Poro System continued to expand, and it was estimated that at one point in the 1920s her personal worth had reached $14 million. There were PORO agencies in every state in the Unites States, and in Alaska, Canada, Nova Scotia, Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas, Central and South America, Africa, and the Philippines.  In 1930, after a nearly devastating financial second divorce, Annie Malone moved her entire operation to Chicago where she later died in 1957 at the age of 87.   

Go to  or Google Annie Malone for additional information about her life and legacy.

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