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Robert E. Weems Jr. restores Overton to his rightful place in American business history. Dispelling stubborn myths, he traces Overton's rise from mentorship by Booker T. Washington, through early failures, to a fateful move to Chicago in 1911. There, Overton started a popular magazine aimed at African American women that helped him dramatically grow his cosmetics firm. Overton went on to become the first African American to head a major business conglomerate, only to lose significant parts of his businesses—and his public persona as ”the merchant prince of his race”—in the Depression, before rebounding once again in the early 1940s.
Revealing and panoramic, The Merchant Prince of Black Chicago weaves the fascinating life story of an African American trailblazer through the eventful history of his times.
Robert E. Weems Jr. is the Willard W. Garvey Distinguished Professor of Business History at Wichita State University. His books include Business in Black and White: American Presidents and Black Entrepreneurs in the Twentieth Century and Building the Black Metropolis: African American Entrepreneurship in Chicago.