I fussed to my friend, a lifelong resident of the area, about the stories I’d accepted as truth regarding Madame C. J. Walker. Frankly, I don’t want to go into all of the things I discovered but would rather focus on Annie Malone, Madame Walker’s former employer and mentor.
Years ago, one of my volunteer experiences was at the Annie Malone Children’s Home. I enjoyed the children and enjoyed bringing friends to the home to donate in-kind or in cash. I would frequent the annual parade but to be honest I knew very little about Annie Malone. Today, I made her the subject of my discoveries.
Among the things I learned about Annie Malone today:
- Her sales agents averaged $15 per day in commissions while the average unskilled worker in the area averaged $11 per week. Perhaps the lesson here is that black haircare has and continues to be a lucrative business. Go Annie.
- Annie Malone was a millionaire before Madame Walker yet unlike Madame Walker she lived quite modestly. In 1924, it was reported that her income tax debt of $40,000 was the highest in the state of Missouri. Geez.
- Opera great Marian Anderson performed in the Poro College auditorium.
- The college had tennis courts for the employees.
- She, at one point, had 75,000 agents working for her worldwide.
I really don’t like long blog posts so I will revisit Annie Malone at a later date. There is so much more to learn and report. Glad I discovered this woman in my rediscovery of St. Louis.