The story of one-time Peoria resident Annie Turnbo Malone is known outside the community she once called home, but many in Central Illinois have never heard of her entrepreneurial journey. WTVP viewers can now discover her inspiring life story and connections to a local family.
The documentary relates James Agbara Bryson’s discovery of his family’s history with Annie and her rise to prominence in hair care and beauty products for Black women. The daughter of former slaves, she was born in Metropolis, Illinois, lived for a time with family in Peoria and attended Peoria High School.
Although she never earned a high school diploma, Annie went on to create and market Poro brand beauty products. She also operated Poro College, a successful cosmetology school in St. Louis that offered jobs and opportunities to thousands while supporting charities serving the Black community.
As she rose in the business world, Annie always maintained contact with her Peoria family and helped them through the years. Today, Annie Malone Children and Family Services in St. Louis carries on her philanthropic legacy.
Annie’s time in Peoria was brief, but the influence of her Peoria family surely contributed to her entrepreneurial spirit and future success. WTVP is pleased to bring this story to television for the first time in Central Illinois.