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Graves, Earl G. 1935–

Earl G. Graves 1935

Publisher, business executive

At a Glance

Sources

A highly respected and nationally known authority on black business development, Earl G. Graves is the founder and publisher of Black Enterprise, a magazine that focuses on issues and news relating to black-owned businesses in the United States. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 1990, Black Enterprise to which Graves contributes a monthly publishers columnboasts a circulation of over 230, 000 and annual revenues of more than $15 million. A key communicator and spokesman within his field, Graves was once described by the Reverend Jesse Jackson in the Washington Post as the primary educator in the country on black businesson trends and opportunities and the like.

Graves himself is a prosperous businessman; as Margaret K. Webb noted in the Washington Post, Gravess success extends beyond the pages of his magazine. Black Enterprise is published by the Earl G. Graves Publishing Company, the parent corporation of which, Earl G. Graves, Ltd., is directed by Graves in his capacities as president and chief executive officer. In addition to these responsibilities Graves serves on the board of directors of several corporations, including the Chrysler Corporation, and is chairman of the Black Business Council. In 1990 Graves made national business headlines when he purchased the rights for Pepsi-Colas Washington, D.C., distribution operations. Gravess partner in the venture is Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Earvin Magic Johnson, who serves as the partnerships executive vice-president and spokesperson, while Graves acts as chief executive officer. The franchise, which distributes over four million cases of Pepsi annually in the District of Columbia and parts of Maryland, has been estimated to be worth about $60 million and makes Graves and Johnson Pepsis largest minority franchisees.

Although the Pepsi deal has consumed much of Gravess energy, he remains committed to the concerns of Black Enterprise. In his monthly publishers column Graves often comments on matters important to greater economic power for blacks. In a 1990 essay for the magazine he expressed a stern warning that the publications annual survey of the top 100 black-owned businesses in the United States showed virtually no growth occurring in the year 1989. As Webb quoted, Graves wrote that black business was threatened not only by a slow economy but the Reagan administrations

At a Glance

Born Earl Gilbert Graves in 1935 in Brooklyn, NY; son of Earl Godwin (a shipping clerk) and Winifred (Sealy) Graves; married Barbara Kydd, July 2, 1960; children: Earl Gilbert, John, Michael: Education: Morgan State College, B.A. (economics), 1958. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Episcopalian. Military Service: U.S. Army, 1958-60; became captain.

Career: Worked in real estate and as national commissioner of scouting for Boy Scouts of America, New York City, early 1960s; administrative assistant to Senator Robert F. Kennedy, 1965-68; owned management consulting firm, 1968-70; publisher of Black Enterprise, New York City, 1970-; co-owner of Pepsi-Cola distributorship, Washington, D.C., 1990-98; president and chief executive officer, Earl G. Graves., Ltd.; president, Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc., Earl G. Graves Marketing and Research Co., Earl G. Graves Development Co., and EGG Dallas Broadcasting Co,; member of board of directors: Rohm & Haas Corp., New York State Urban Development Corp., Chrysler Corp., National Supplier Development Council, and Magazine Publishers Association; chairman, Black Business Council.

Awards: National Award of Excellence, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1972; Black Achiever Award, Talk (magazine), 1972; presidential citation, One of [the] Ten Most Outstanding Minority Businessmen in the United States, 1973; Outstanding Citizen of the Year, Omega Psi Phi, 1974; one of 200 Future Leaders of the Country, Time; Outstanding Black Businessman, National Business League; one of 100 Influential Blacks Ebony; Poynter fellow, Yale University, 1978; numerous awards from the Boy Scouts of America.

Addresses: Home Scarsdale, NY. Office Black Enterprise, 130 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011.

legacy of exclusion realized with the subsequent retrenchment of affirmative action plans and minority business set-aside programs. Graves noted that black businesses will survive if they get leaner, stronger, better, and urged his readers to be selective where we spend our money and do business with companies that do business with us.

Graves has always been vocal on the subject of racial discrimination in business. In 1990 he praised the United Way of his hometown, Scarsdale, New York, for moving their kick-off dinner from a club that traditionally excluded blacks from membership. In a speech quoted by James Ferron in the New York Times Graves stated that the United Ways action sent an important signal of equal opportunity, and that a primary cause of human suffering was the lack of equal economic opportunity in our minority communities. He later commented to Ferron on racial bias: It is a national problem and the point I was making in this speech is that if there were jobs, people would not have some of the problems they have. If they had equal opportunity, quality schools, all of the above, then people would not have time to get sidetracked by those things that are detrimental to their well-being.

Black Enterprise, the premier business magazine for African Americans, is committed to the task of educating, inspiring and uplifting its readersshowing them how to thrive professionally, economically and as proactive, empowered citizens, said Graves in a 1996 article in the magazine. As the man behind the magazine, Graves has long represented those sentiments personally. As his own success has continued to inspire would-be entrepreneurs well into the new millennium, Graves has taken steps to reach out to young African Americans through the creation of scholarships and programs to encourage entrepreneurship.

Throughout his career he has been cited numerous times for his achievementsfrom dozens of honorary degrees to various medals and citations. This trend has continued. He was awarded the Free Enterprise Award from the International Franchise Association in 1991, the Entrepreneurial Excellence Award from Dow Jones & Co. In 1992, the New York City Entrepreneur of the Year from Ernst & Young in 1995, and the Caribbean Tourism Organizations Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. In 2000 he was inducted as a fellow into the Academy of Arts and Sciences.

One of the most prestigious honors Graves received was the Spingarn Medal in 1999 from the NAACP. The organizations highest honor, the medal was created in 1914 to recognize the merit and achievement of African Americans. It was awarded during the NAACPs 90th anniversary gala in New York City. NAACP President and CEO Kweisi Mfume was quoted by Jet as saying during the event, Earl G. Graves is being honored for his success as a businessman, publisher, dedicated advocate of education, passionate crusader for civil and human rights, conscientious civic leader, groundbreaking entrepreneur, and devoted family man. He continued, I am proud to present Earl with our biggest honor. Graves immediately repaid the honor, announcing at the awards ceremony that he and other business leaders had established a $1.23 million Earl G. Graves/NAACP Scholarship Fund. The scholarship fund with be a vehicle to help others to dream and to succeed, Graves was quoted as saying at the event by Jet.

The NAACP scholarship was the second major gift Graves made to higher education in the 1990s. In May of 1995 Graves pledged $1 million to his alma mater Morgan State University. It was the largest alumni gift the school had ever received. Graves attributed his generosity to a desire to thank the school for providing him with an invaluable learning experience.

Black Enterprise quoted him as saying, I remember how it felt to be a student on a campus with brilliant and dedicated professors demanding the best from us, while also being very supportive of us. He also raised the profile of the historically black college by dedicating Black Enterprises silver anniversary party in New York City to the school. At the gala, the universitys president announced that Morgan would rename its business school the Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management. He told Black Enterprise, Earl Graves had been one of Morgans most loyal and generous supporters over the years. He and I have worked to chart a vision for the growth of the School of Business and Management, and this gift of $1 million will go far to ensure the future success of African Americans in business.

Graves knows quite a bit about success himself and in 1997 published a book to share his knowledge. How to Succeed in Business Without Being White: Straight Talk on Making It in America offers advice to African Americans who hope to make it in a white-dominated corporate world. As if to prove his own point, Gravess own success in business continued to flourish. By 1998 Black Enterprise had a readership of 3.1 million people. Its parent company, Earl G. Graves Publishing, and its sister company, Black Enterprise Unlimited were doing very well. The Pepsi-Cola distributorship he purchased in 1990 won Bottler of the Year award three times and by 1998 was worth $60 million and covered a 400 square mile territory. It was at this point that Graves decided to sell it to the Pepsi-Cola company. My decision to sell my Pepsi franchise is undoubtedly a sound business decision, Graves told Jet. Not only has Pepsi made me an attractive offer, they have asked me to continue on with them as a powerful voice within the company as it relates to their national sales and marketing efforts. The position he took on was Chairman of Pepsis Customer Advisory and Ethnic Marketing Committee. His job was to help Pepsi management in their efforts to reach ethnic consumers.

As the 1990s came to a close Graves not only continued to experience phenomenal success as a businessman, but he also continued to try and share the path to that success with African Americans. In 1998 he premiered the Kidpreneur Konference in conjunction with the annual Entrepreneurs Conference sponsored by Black Enterprise. It was designed specifically to encourage African American youth to pursue business ownership. For the grown-ups, Graves partnered with Sandy Weill, co-chairman of Citigroup to form the Black Enterprise/Greenwich Street Corporate Growth Partners. The private equity fund was created to help minority and women controlled businesses with a minimum annual revenue of $10 million.

In a 1995 interview in Black Enterprise Graves said, It was probably [the fifth year of publication] when it became clear that we were going to make a contribution far greater than what I might have envisioned with starting outthat we were, in fact, going to make an enormous difference. Considering the many ventures designed to encourage entrepreneurship among African Americans that he has undertaken, Graves and Black Enterprise will continue to make enormous differences in the lives of minority business owners in particular and American business in general for a long time to come.

Sources

Black Enterprise, August 1995; February 1996.

Business Week, August 13, 1990.

The Christian Century, November 19, 1997.

Dallas Morning News, May 19, 2002.

Fortune, August 27, 1990.

Institutional Investor, February 1999.

Jet, April 2, 1990; December 21, 1998; August 9, 1999.

Los Angeles Times, July 1, 1990.

New York Times, September 30, 1989.

Washington Post, July 25, 1990.

Michael E. Mueller and Candace LaBalle

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"Graves, Earl G. 1935–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Graves, Earl G. 1935–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/graves-earl-g-1935-0

"Graves, Earl G. 1935–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/graves-earl-g-1935-0

Graves, Earl G. 1935—

Earl G. Graves 1935

Publisher, corporate executive officer

At a Glance

Sources

A highly respected and nationally known authority on black business development, Earl G. Graves is the founder and publisher of Black Enterprise, a magazine that focuses on issues and news relating to black-owned businesses in the United States. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 1990, Black Enterprise to which Graves contributes a monthly publishers column boasts a circulation of over 230,000 and annual revenues of more than $15 million. A key communicator and spokesman within his field, Graves was once described by the Reverend Jesse Jackson in the Washington Post as the primary educator in the country on black businesson trends and opportunities and the like.

Graves himself is a prosperous businessman; as Margaret K. Webb noted in the Washington Post, Gravess success extends beyond the pages of his magazine. Black Enterprise is published by the Earl G. Graves Publishing Company, the parent corporation of which, Earl G. Graves, Ltd., is directed by Graves in his capacities as president and chief executive officer. In addition to these responsibilities Graves serves on the board of directors of several corporations, including the Chrysler Corporation, and is chairman of the Black Business Council. In 1990 Graves made national business headlines when he purchased the rights for Pepsi-Colas Washington, D.C., distribution operations. Gravess partner in the venture is Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Earvin Magic Johnson, who serves as the partnerships executive vice-president and spokesperson, while Graves acts as chief executive officer. The franchise, which distributes over four million cases of Pepsi annually in the District of Columbia and parts of Maryland, has been estimated to be worth about $60 million and makes Graves and Johnson Pepsis largest minority franchisees.

Although the Pepsi deal has consumed much of Gravess energy, he remains committed to the concerns of Black Enterprise. In his monthly publishers column Graves often comments on matters important to greater economic power for blacks. In a 1990 essay for the magazine he expressed a stern warning that the publications annual survey of the top 100 black-owned businesses in the United States showed virtually no growth occurring in the year 1989. As Webb quoted, Graves wrote that black business was threatened not only by a slow economy

At a Glance

Full name, Earl Gilbert Graves; born in 1935 in Brooklyn, NY; son of Earl Godwin (a shipping clerk) and Winifred (Sealy) Graves; married Barbara Kydd, July 2, 1960; children: Earl Gilbert, John, Michael. Education: Morgan State College, B.A. (economics), 1958. Religion: Episcopalian. Politics: Democrat.

Worked in real estate and as national commissioner of scouting for Boy Scouts of America, New York City, early 1960s; administrative assistant to Senator Robert F. Kennedy, 1965-68; owned management consulting firm, 1968-70; publisher of Black Enterprise, New York City, 1970; co-owner of Pepsi-Cola distributorship, Washington, D.C., 1990; president and chief executive officer, Earl G. Graves., Ltd.,; president, Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc., Earl G. Graves Marketing and Research Co., Earl G. Graves Development Co., and EGG Dallas Broadcasting Co. Member of board of directors, Rohm & Haas Corp., New York State Urban Development Corp., Chrysler Corp., National Supplier Development Council, and Magazine Publishers Association. Chairman, Black Business Council. Military service: U.S. Army, 1958-60; became captain.

Awards: National Award of Excellence, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1972; Black Achiever Award, Talk (magazine), 1972; presidential citation, One of [the] Ten Most Outstanding Minority Businessmen in the United States, 1973; Outstanding Citizen of the Year, Omega Psi Phi, 1974; one of 200 Future Leaders of the Country, Time; Outstanding Black Businessman, National Business League; one of 100 Influential Blacks, Ebony; Poynter fellow, Yale University, 1978; numerous awards from the Boy Scouts of America.

Addresses: Home Scarsdale, NY. Office Black Enterprise, 130 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011.

but the Reagan administrations legacy of exclusion realized with the subsequent retrenchment of affirmative action plans and minority business set-aside programs. Graves noted that black businesses will survive if they get leaner, stronger, better, and urged his readers to be selective where we spend our money and do business with companies that do business with us.

Graves has always been vocal on the subject of racial discrimination in business. In 1990 he praised the United Way of his hometown, Scarsdale, New York, for moving their kick-off dinner from a club that traditionally excluded blacks from membership. In a speech quoted by James Ferron in the New York Times Graves stated that the United Ways action sent an important signal of equal opportunity, and that a primary cause of human suffering was the lack of equal economic opportunity in our minority communities. He later commented to Ferron on racial bias: It is a national problem and the point I was making in this speech is that if there were jobs, people would not have some of the problems they have. If they had equal opportunity, quality schools, all of the above, then people would not have time to get sidetracked by those things that are detrimental to their well-being.

Sources

Business Week, August 13, 1990.

Fortune, August 27, 1990.

Jet, April 2, 1990.

Los Angeles Times, July 1, 1990.

New York Times, September 30, 1989.

Washington Post, July 25, 1990.

Michael E. Mueller

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Graves, Earl G. 1935—." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Graves, Earl G. 1935—." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/graves-earl-g-1935

"Graves, Earl G. 1935—." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/graves-earl-g-1935