Earl G. Graves, Sr., founder of Black Enterprise — the media company focused on black entrepreneurship and black businesses — died Monday at the age of 85.Graves “passed away quietly after a long battle with Alzheimer’s,” his son and current Black Enterprise CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr.
Since 1970, BLACK ENTERPRISE has amplified the voices and told the stories of black businessmen and women who might otherwise not have been sought out by editors of other publications. Graves’ vision as a pioneer of black business reporting is what connected people all over the world. In addition to his philanthropy, he created culturally enriching events where professionals could connect as well as lifting others as he climbed.
In his passing, those whose stories were originally told by BE and others who have been impacted by his mission of creating wealth for life are paying tribute to his life well lived.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), chair of the House Financial Services Committee, remembers Graves as a devoted friend and a trailblazer.
“I am fortunate to have known Earl Graves, Sr. for many years, and I consider he and his late wife, Barbara Kydd Graves, dear friends. Together they founded the first and most successful magazine on African American entrepreneurship, Black Enterprise, which absolutely leveled the playing field for men and women of color in business. It is because of Black Enterprise that our community has had the ability to impart wisdom and share resources about wealth building, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship in this country, and we owe a debt of gratitude to Earl and Barbara for having the foresight and willingness to found and lead such an important publication that has thrived for 50 years.”
She went on to say, “However, Earl Graves’ willingness to serve and uplift his community was not limited to his magazine and multimedia company. He wrote the playbook for African American entrepreneurs and executives in his book, ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Being White.’ He leveraged his position on the boards of many large corporations to fight for increased contracting opportunities for minority-owned businesses. He advocated for increased diversity in the c-suite. He uplifted the work of other African American entrepreneurs, and he was always willing to shine a light on the leadership of African American elected officials whose legislative work would otherwise have gone unrecognized.”