Earl Graves, Sr.

Black Enterprise Founder and Publisher Earl G. Graves, Sr. passed away on the evening of Monday, April 6. His son, Black Enterprise CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr., announced that the elder Graves had passed away quietly at 9:22 p.m. on April 6, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. He was 85.

“Graves was widely considered to be the ultimate champion of black business, launching Black Enterprise in 1970 to not only chronicle the rise of African American entrepreneurs, but also provide the tools for African Americans to succeed in the business mainstream and  “achieve their measure of the American dream,” the publication said via its website blackenterprise.com.

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1935, Graves graduated from the HBCU Morgan State University with a B.A. in Economics.

He joined the staff of U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1965. According to Blackenterprise.com, he decided to start a publication that would provide blacks with the pathway to go into entrepreneurship after Kennedy’s assassination in 1968.

Two years later, Black Enterprise was born.

“The time was ripe for a magazine devoted to economic development in the African American community. The publication was committed to the task of educating, inspiring and uplifting its readers,” Graves wrote in his best-selling book “How To Succeed in Business Without Being White.” “My goal was to show them how to thrive professionally, economically and as proactive, empowered citizens.”

Some of the biggest names in business – and entertainment – including BET founder Bob Johnson, Oprah Winfrey and billionaire Robert Smith were featured in the magazine over the decades of its print and digital publication.

Graves is survived by his three sons and eight grandchildren. His wife Barbara preceded him in death.

Information from blackenterprise.com contributed to this report.

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