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Noliwe Rooks

entrepreneur and philanthropist, was born Annie Minerva Turnbo on a farm in Metropolis, Illinois, the tenth of eleven children of Robert Turnbo and Isabella Cook, both farmers. Robert and Isabella owned the land they farmed and were able to provide comfortably for themselves and their children. After her parents died of yellow fever in 1877, Turnbo went to live with an older sister in Peoria, Illinois.

As a young woman Turnbo grew dissatisfied with the hair grooming methods then in use by African American women which often involved the use of goose fat soap and harsh chemicals for straightening purposes Stronger products to straighten naturally curly hair generally damaged the hair follicles or scalp One of the methods recommended by such products advised users to wash their hair and lay it out flat while using a hot flatiron to apply the solutions Even washed and laid out ...

Article

A'Lelia Perry Bundles

entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political activist, was born Sarah Breedlove in Delta (Madison Parish), Louisiana, the fifth of six children of Minerva to Anderson and Owen Breedlove Sr., sharecroppers and former slaves.

Orphaned at seven years old, she had almost no formal education during her early life. Around 1878—when racial violence was at its most virulent in her rural Louisiana parish—she moved with her elder sister, Louvenia Breedlove Powell, across the Mississippi River to Vicksburg. At fourteen Sarah married Moses McWilliams, about whom almost nothing is known, to escape what she called the “cruelty” of her brother-in-law Jesse Powell. Around 1887 when the McWilliamses' daughter Lelia, later known as A'Lelia Walker, was two years old, Moses died. Although some sources say he was lynched, there is no credible documentation to justify such a claim.

To support herself and her daughter, Sarah McWilliams ...

Article

Kahlil Gross

entrepreneur, was born in Berkley, Virginia, to Joshua Phillips and Ellen Douglass. At a time when Jim Crow was being established throughout the South and education for African Americans in the public school systems was made separate and clearly unequal, stemming from the Supreme Court's ruling on Plessey v. Ferguson in 1896, Mr. and Mrs. Phillips made sure that their daughter received the best education afforded to her. Sarah attended public schools in Berkley, and then went on to attend Lincoln Preparatory School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Norfolk Mission College for Negroes in Norfolk, Virginia. At some point, she went on to do advance work in chemistry at Columbia University.

Around the age of sixteen, Sarah became a dressmaker. Her parents encouraged her to become a school teacher, however, in 1913 at age twenty four Sarah decided to pursue an entrepreneurial path opening a small hair dressing ...