NEW YORK – Earl Graves Sr., who championed black businesses as the founder of the first African American-owned magazine focusing on black entrepreneurs, has died. He was 85.
Graves died Monday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, his son, Earl “Butch” Graves Jr, said in a post on Twitter.
Graves launched his magazine, Black Enterprise, in 1970. He later said his aim was to educate, inspire and uplift his readers.
“My goal was to show them how to thrive professionally, economically and as proactive, empowered citizens,” Graves wrote in his 1997 book “How To Succeed In Business Without Being White.”
According to an obituary published by Black Enterprise, Graves grew up in Brooklyn and gained an economics degree from Morgan State University. He held jobs in law enforcement and real estate before working on Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s staff.
After Kennedy's assassination in 1968, he moved to found the magazine, which is now headed by his son.
He served on the boards of several major corporations, including American Airlines, Daimler Chrysler and Rohm & Hass and backed the presidential bids of Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama, Black Enterprise wrote.
In addition to Black Enterprise, Graves also ran Pepsi-Cola of Washington, D.C., one of the nation’s largest soft-drink distributors owned by African Americans. He sold his stake in the bottler to PepsiCo in 1998.