The Chicago Bee
The Chicago Bee.jpg
The Chicago Bee Header
TypeWeekly newspaper
FormatBroadsheet, later Tabloid[1]
Owner(s)Anthony Overton
Ceased publication1947[3]
HeadquartersChicago Bee Building, 3647 S. State Street, Chicago

The Chicago Bee or Chicago Sunday Bee was a Chicago-based weekly newspaper founded by Anthony Overton, an African American, in 1925. Its readership was primarily African American and the paper was committed to covering "wholesome and authentic news",[1] and adopted a middle-class, conservative tone.[4] Politically, it was aligned with the Republican Party.[5] Overton established Half-Century Magazine in 1916 and it was published until 1925.

After sharing quarters with the Hygienic Company in the 1920s, the Bee moved into the new Chicago Bee Building, an Art Deco structure built between 1929 and 1931.[6] However, after Overton's bank failed in the 1930s, the two businesses shared quarters once again, as the Hygienic Company moved into the Bee building.[7]

Chandler Owen became editor of the Bee after moving to Chicago.[8] The Bee initially supported the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which Owen supported, but later joined other publications including the Chicago Defender in opposing the union.[9]

Subsequent editors of the paper included Ida B. Wells and Olive Diggs.[10] The Bee's editorial staff was mostly female,[11] and the newspaper covered the black women's club movement extensively.[1] It distinguished itself from other newspapers in the Chicago black press in its promotion of black history and literature.[12][11]

Chicago Bee Monthly Front Page May 4, 1941
Chicago Bee Monthly Front Page May 4, 1941
The Chicago Sunday Bee About Books
The Chicago Sunday Bee About Books

The Bee sponsored the original "Mayor of Bronzeville" contest which led to the use of the term "Bronzeville" for the neighborhood.[1] The concept was originally suggested by theater editor James Gentry, who coined the term and had been sponsoring a beauty contest in the neighborhood since 1916.[13] When Gentry left the paper in 1932, he took his concept with him to the Chicago Defender, which continued the contests.[13]

The paper's founder and owner Anthony Overton was a wealthy industrialist, owning such concerns as the Overton Hygienic Company, a cosmetics firm.[14] He had also made a previous venture in publishing, in the form of the Half Century Magazine.[14] After Overton's death in 1946, the Bee was briefly continued by his sons in a tabloid format, but was unsuccessful.[1] It ceased publication in 1947.[3]

Very little of the Bee survives today, apart from the building it occupied. One historian was unable to find a single intact issue from the years 1925 to 1935.[15]


  1. ^ a b c d e Trodd 2011, p. 458.
  2. ^ Mahoney 2001, p. 71.
  3. ^ a b Grant & Grant 2013, p. 47.
  4. ^ Reed 2011, p. 104.
  5. ^ Capozolla 2004, p. 944.
  6. ^ Reed 2011, p. 98.
  7. ^ Ingham & Feldman 1994, p. 498.
  8. ^ Trodd 2011, p. 4.
  9. ^ Reed 2011, p. 129.
  10. ^ Knupfer 2006, p. 5.
  11. ^ a b Knupfer 2006, p. 64.
  12. ^ Schlabach 2013, p. xv.
  13. ^ a b Schlabach 2013, p. 19.
  14. ^ a b Mahoney 2001, p. 70.
  15. ^ Bates 2001, p. 203.

Works cited