Annie Malone’s “Poro” College

Photo of Annie Malone, Black EntrepreneurI 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Opera great Marian Anderson performed in the Poro College auditorium.
  4. The college had tennis courts for the employees.
  5. 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.

Don’t you love this photo? poro-300x202


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