Family And History

A great source of pride for me is that BLACK ENTERPRISE is one of the rare media entities that uplifts, spotlights, and celebrates African American families. Walk past a magazine rack or newsstand in any given month, and if you found a magazine featuring a black family on its cover, chances are high that it’s the latest issue of BE. Family covers are extremely popular among our readers, consistently outselling covers featuring celebrities, entertainers, and athletes. Even when families do not grace the cover, they are showcased in each and every issue, most notably in our monthly Black Wealth Initiative and Family Finances feature stories, but also throughout the magazine.

This family-oriented theme carries over to extensions of the BE brand, such as the Entrepreneurs Conference and the Golf & Tennis Challenge. In fact, many of the first children to attend the youth components of these events (our Kidpreneurs Conference and Kids Kamp) more than a decade ago have now graduated to attending these world-class networking events as adults.

None of this is coincidental. I am a passionate believer in the importance of strong black families to the continued progress and economic empowerment of the race, especially if we are to continue to serve the mission of creating multigenerational wealth. In fact, I believe that family remains the cornerstone in the foundation of lasting wealth in America. It is difficult, if not impossible, to sustain wealth if the legacy of family is not firmly established and maintained despite all of the challenges, pressures, and assaults of 21st century society.

This is a point I will be sure to drive home when I am interviewed by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond for a PBS-TV taping of An Evening with Earl Graves for The HistoryMakers at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre ( Julian was there when we launched more than 36 years ago, serving as a member of the original BE Advisory Board. He can vouch for me when I say that my family — anchored by Barbara, my wife of 46 years — served as both my motivation and support system as I worked to build the company. That investment in family is now paying dividends in our ability to place BE into the capable hands of our three sons — CEO and President Earl “Butch” Jr., Johnny, the counsel to the chairman and Michael, executive vice president of corporate sales — and to leave a legacy to our eight grandchildren.

The fact is, when we think of sustained wealth, we think of families — the Kennedys, the Rockefellers, the Fords, the Waltons. At the dawn of the 21st century, we are still just at the threshold of being able to establish such standard-bearers of multigenerational wealth for black America, as we witness the succession of the greatest entrepreneurs in the history of black America, including Herman J. Russell, Percy Sutton, Cathy Hughes, and the late John H. Johnson — all of whom successfully passed the leadership of their businesses to their children.

This is why, when I am asked about the keys to

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