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April 7, 2020

Earl G. Graves, Sr., Founder of Black Enterprise Magazine, Dies at 85

arl G. Graves, Sr., founder and original publisher of Black Enterprise Magazine

Earl G. Graves, Sr., the founder and publisher of Black Enterprise Magazine, has sadly passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. He was 85-years old and was one of the most influential and well-known executives in the world.
In 1970, Graves became the first entrepreneur to create a nationally-distributed business and wealth-building resource that specifically targeted African Americans. For 50 years, Black Enterprise has provided essential business information and advice to professionals, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and decision makers.

Graves died on the night of April 6, 2020, and his son who is the current President & CEO of Black Enterprise, Earl "Butch" Graves, Jr., was the one who broke the news via Twitter. His message read: "My Father and Hero Earl Graves Sr., the Founder of Black Enterprise, passed away quietly after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. I loved and admired this giant of a man, and am blessed to be his namesake. LOVE YOU DAD!"

Graves was born on January 9, 1935 in Brooklyn, New York. He later attended Morgan State University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics in 1958. He started out in politics working as Senator Robert F. Kennedy's administrative assistant in 1965. He was later invited to serve on the advisory board of the Small Business Administration in 1968, and launched his iconic magazine in 1970.

Black Enterprise quickly became an inspiration to millions of African Americans who aspired to become entrepreneurs and have top executive roles in Corporate America. Now, they could finally read about others who had become successful in business, and envision themselves reaching the same milestone despite a world full of racism and discrimination.

In 1998, Graves authored a New York Times best-selling book entitled How to Succeed in Business Without Being White, which chronicles the success strategies of America's premier African-American businessman.

In 2002, he was named by Fortune Magazine as one of the 50 most powerful and influential African Americans in corporate America.

His legacy lives on through his iconic brand which still reaches millions of African Americans around the country via BlackEnterprise.com and their various annual events.

Graves, whose wife, Barbara, passed away in 2012, leaves behind three sons, Earl Jr., Johnny and Michael, and eight grandchildren.