Black History Month – Little Known Facts Everyone Needs To Know
During the late 19th century, African American women used a variety of home remedies to keep their curly tresses prim and proper. Back in the day mixtures of things like goose fat, various soaps, perfumes, and heavy oils helped women of color straighten, wash, condition, and grow their hair. Nothing can take away the enormous impact in Black hair, beauty and cosmetics that Madam C.J. Walker created for women of color. Her achievements are unparalleled, her financial donations, social activism, and philanthropy work are deservingly well noted in history. However, the shoulders for which she stood have strangely been overlooked.
I'm not sure why the Netflix miniseries, "Self Made," omitted a major part of how Walker, whose real name Sarah Breedlove, started in the Black hair-care industry. I do know that Octavia Spencer did a phenomenal job portraying the haircare legend. The series was great, but the writers didn't share the fact that Madam C.J. Walker was trained and worked for Annie Turnbo Malone. They mischaracterized her legacy in negative light and used the name "Addie Monroe" instead of her real name. This oversight was also pointed out on the website State Historical Society of Missouri were the editor wrote,
“Annie Turnbo Malone’s legacy as a pioneer in the African American beauty and cosmetic business has largely been overshadowed by the success of her former employee, Madam CJ Walker,” it continued. “This is beginning to change, however, and Malone is now being recognized for her role in launching the industry.”
Annie Turnbo Malone was the first African-American female multi-millionaire and Black hair-care pioneer for women of color. She was also a businesswoman and inventor who created the original formula for "Wonderful Hair Grower" (also known as the Poro Formula,) owned the Poro Hair Company, established Poro College of Cosmetology and Center, and developed a mail-ordering process for beauty products. The iconic chemist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur mentored and employed Walker while she lived in St. Louis. Another cool fact, she is one of the first people in St. Louis own a Rolls-Royce.
By 1924, Annie Louis Malone had revolutionize the world of cosmetology and beauty for Black women establishing branches of Poro College in 15 major cities in the United States. This in turn help women of color build careers in beauty and become successful entrepreneurs much like Madam C.J. Walker. Below is more of her story.