PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD)– Peoria city leaders gathered downtown Wednesday afternoon to celebrate an honorary street naming for Annie Malone, the first African American female millionaire.
Born on Aug. 9, 1869, Malone moved to Peoria, Illinois as a teenager where she attended classes at Peoria High School and excelled in chemistry, but health problems forced her to withdraw. That’s when she began practicing cosmetology and experimenting with beauty products.
Malone then moved to Saint Louis, Missouri, where she established Poro College, the first African-American college designated to cosmetology. On the campus, she opened a school, manufacturing plant, retail store, cafeteria, residential facilities, a gymnasium, bakery, and a chapel. In 1924, Malone’s net worth was $14 million.
Malone made donations to the YMCA, Howard University College of Medicine, and the Saint Louis Orphan’s Home, which is now called Annie Malone Children and Family Services Center.
On Wednesday, city leaders, Peoria Firefighters, Peoria Police, and the community gathered at the corner of Adams and State to unveil the new sign that reads “Annie Malone Place”.
Speakers at the honorary street naming included Peoria Mayor Rita Ali, First District Council Member Denise Jackson, Journalist Pam Adams, Assistant Curator and Community Engagement Coordinator for the Peoria Riverfront Museum Everly Davis, and Annie Malone’s Great Grand Nephew James Agbara Bryson.
Assistant Curator Everly Davis said Peoria is where Annie Malone started her journey.
“Annie Malone may not have been born here, but this was the place she spent her formative years, and most importantly it’s where she fell in love with chemistry and probably formulated the product that catapulted her to fame later on, and its where her family called home and continues to call home as we have been working with her great grand nephew Agbara Bryson,” Davis said.
You can learn more about Annie Malone at her exhibit at the Peoria Riverfront Museum.