Earl G. Graves Sr., a titan for entrepreneurship, a champion of black business and the founder of Black Enterprise, passed away Monday evening. He was 85.
Graves was surrounded by family and friends and he passed peacefully after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. His son, current Black Enterprise CEO and president Earl Butch Graves Jr shared the news on social media.
With Black Enterprise, Graves established an outlet that has consistently highlighted the progression of African-Americans in business and beyond since the 1970s, centralizing the unique issues of African-Americans through achievements in business, entrepreneurship, politics, history as well as culture.
Born January 9, 1935, in Brooklyn, New York, Graves had an early knack for business. When he was 7, he sold boxed Christmas cards for his uncle and noted that his father only allowed him to sell to people that lived on the family’s side of the block.
A graduate of Morgan State University (who later renamed their business school in his honor) and a member of the esteemed Omega Psi Phi fraternity, he went on the found Black Enterprize magazine in 1970 after receiving a loan from the Small Business Administration. He was once the chairman and chief executive officer of Pepsi after being part of a $60 million deal he made with Earvin “Magic” Johnson in 1990. At one point, Pepsi was the largest minority-owned franchise in the country.