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Anthony Overton

Born into slavery in 1865, Anthony Overton became a leading African American entrepreneur during the twentieth century with the establishment of his Chicago-based empire. In 1881, Overton graduated from South Side High School in Topeka. Shortly afterwards he opened his first business venture, a fruit and grocery store in Topeka.  Money earned from the business allowed Overton to graduate with a Bachelor of Law degree from Washburn College in Topeka. Overton created the Overton Hygienic Manufacturing Company in 1898. 

The food of 1902 almost brought the demise of the company, engulfing the Kansas City manufacturing district and destroying Overton’s business. After recovering from bankruptcy, Overton resumed manufacturing and selling products, although now to a nationwide and eventually an international market that included Egypt, Liberia, and Japan.The company sold baking powder, cosmetics, perfumes, and toiletries. In addition to his manufacturing company, Overton established The Victory Life Insurance Company, The Half-Century Magazine, The Chicago Bee, and The Great Northern Realty Company including the Douglass National Bank, the second nationally chartered black-owned bank in the United States. With the founding of the bank, Overton became the principal competitor of Jesse Binga whose Binga State Bank in Chicago was the largest black-owned bank in the nation. He established  The Victory Life Insurance Company, The Half-Century Magazine, The Chicago Bee, and The Great Northern Realty Company.

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