Legendary Publisher Earl Graves Sr Dies at 85

The world awakens to melancholy accolades for a mammoth of industry that literally laid the groundwork for generations of African-Americans from both a journalistic and business perspective. 

From a journalistic perspective, I believe it’s pretty safe to say just about every journo of African descent who has worked in the field from 1970 to today is only two degrees separated from being directly connected to the legacy of Earl C. Graves Sr.

According to Black Enterprise, Earl Graves Sr has passed away at the age of 85 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.  

Graves Sr founded Black Enterprise as a business and investment thinktank for business-minded people of African descent.

The magazine also presented the public was a polished image of Black professionals from the highest levels of industry, a reality that ran counter to the stereotypical troupes that were prominent, both historically and contemporaneously 

“I loved and admired this giant of a man, and am blessed to be his namesake,” said Graves Jr. in an update on Twitter. 

(Earl C. Graves receives the 86th Annual Spingham Award from the NAACP in 1999)

“The time was ripe for a magazine devoted to economic development in the African American community,” said Graves Sr was once quoted as saying.  “The publication was committed to the task of educating, inspiring and uplifting its readers.”   

The native of Brooklyn was born in 1935 and graduated with a degree in economics. After serving in the U.S. Army, Graves Sr went on to work for the late Robert F. Kennedy as an administrative assistant from 1965 to 1968. 

In 1998, Graves released “How to Succeed in Business Without Being White” on HarperCollins with the stated goal to teach others 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. 

Back to top