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Earl Graves Sr. (1935–2020), founder of Black Enterprise magazine

by Linnea Crowther

Earl Graves Sr. was the founder and publisher of Black Enterprise magazine, focusing on Black entrepreneurs and businesses.

Black Enterprise

Graves founded Black Enterprise in 1970, and the magazine celebrates its 50th year in 2020 with millions of regular readers. The magazine’s mission was to highlight successful Black-owned businesses and to provide advice and leadership to Black entrepreneurs. Graves was CEO of Pepsi-Cola of Washington, D.C. from 1990 to 1998, and he sat on boards including American Airlines, Daimler AG, Macy’s, and New York City’s American Museum of Natural History. President George W. Bush appointed Graves to serve on the presidential commission of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Graves was honored with the Boy Scouts of America’s Silver Buffalo Award in 1988 and the NAACP’s Springarn Medal in 1999 and Silver Anniversary Award in 2006.

Graves’ goal

“My goal was to show them how to thrive professionally, economically and as proactive, empowered citizens.” —from Graves’ 1997 book “How to Succeed in Business Without Being White”


What people said about him

Full obituary: The Washington Post

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