Family And History

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.

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