On the 20th anniversary of BLACK ENTERPRISE, Earl G. Graves reflected, “I think we've been the drum major in this country for black business and for black professionals. We've been able to show that, when given the opportunity, black people can be as good as anybody, and in many cases, better.”
Earl G. Graves may be the best illustration of his own point.
The son of West Indian immigrants, Graves began his career as an administrative assistant to Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Following the Senator's assassination, Graves established his own consulting company to advise corporations on urban affairs and economic development. Graves observed an increasing number of people like him - African-American professionals who needed information on careers, personal finance, and the unwritten rules of networking in corporate America. The visionary entrepreneur created BLACK ENTERPRISE to speak to this need.
Throughout its 24-year history, BLACK ENTERPRISE has followed a mission of service. It has advised African-Americans about how to navigate business and government organizations to attain positions of influence, and how to bring success to their personal and professional lives. BLACK ENTERPRISE communicates the importance of black-owned businesses to the economy by each year listing the BLACK ENTERPRISE 100 industrial/service businesses in the country that are owned by blacks.
In his role as editor of BLACK ENTERPRISE, Earl Graves strives to influence the future as well as the present. He urges black professionals to safeguard the wealth and security of future generations with a simple formula: teaching their children the value of money.
The entire Graves family is closely involved in their businesses. Barbara Graves, now a professional grandmother, at one time ran every department by sales at BLACK ENTERPRISE. Two sons, Butch and John, work for the magazine and Michael works for Pepsi-Cola of Washington D.C.
Graves' professional achievements are inspiration to all entrepreneurs. Today, he is the president and chief executive officer of Earl G. Graves, Ltd., the parent company of Earl G. Graves Publishing Company, publisher of BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine. He is also the chairman and CEO of Pepsi-Cola of Washington D.C., the largest minority-owned Pepsi-Cola franchise in the United States. He was recognized in 1972 as one of the ten most outstanding minority businessmen in the country by the President of the United States, and has received the National Award of Excellence for his achievements in minority business enterprise.
However, the finest and most lasting tribute to Graves' economic, political, and social influence may be the fact that the gross sales of the BLACK ENTERPRISE 100 companies has increased from less than $450 million in 1970 to more than $9 billion today. The owners and managers of many of these companies would be the first to tell you how much of their success is due to Earl G. Graves.