Earl Graves Sr., the founder and publisher of Black Enterprise and iconic entrepreneur in the black community, has died.
Graves’ son, Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. confirmed his father’s passing in a post on Twitter, saying he died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. According to Black Enterprise, Graves Sr. was 85 years old.
“I loved and admired this giant of a man, and am blessed to be his namesake,” said Graves Jr. in an update on Twitter.
Graves Sr., founded Black Enterprise in 1970 as a resource for business and investing advice for African Americans.
“The time was ripe for a magazine devoted to economic development in the African American community,” said Graves Sr. “The publication was committed to the task of educating, inspiring and uplifting its readers.”
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Graves Sr. was heralded as a champion of black-owned business, and a supporter of equal opportunity. He received the National Award of Excellence for his business achievements. Graves Sr. served on the boards of several Fortune 500 companies, including AMR Corp., which runs American Airlines, and DaimlerChrysler AG.
In 1998, Graves Sr. released his book “How to Succeed in Business Without Being White,” published by HarperCollins, which offered advice on how to “overcome adversity and succeed in today’s largely white business environment.”
In 1999, he received the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal, the highest achievement for African Americans. In 2007, Graves Sr. was inducted into the U.S. Business Hall of Fame.
Graves Sr. was previously chairman and CEO of Pepsi-Cola of Washington, D.C., the largest minority-controlled Pepsi-Cola franchise in the U.S.
Graves Sr. was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1935. He graduated from Morgan State University with a degree in economics. Following a stint in the Army, Graves Sr. went on to work as administrative assistant to the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy from 1965 to 1968.
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