Indeed, the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others would not have succeeded to the degree that it did without the financial support of African American business leaders of that period.
As much as anyone, these early entrepreneurs were the architects of the New South. And they are an essential link in the creation of a 21st century United States of America—an America that would freely and overwhelmingly elect a person of African descent to the presidency.
Back in 1970, I saw in Black Enterprise an opportunity to build a successful venture with the potential to serve the broader interests of African Americans. Not everyone shared my vision. We got some pretty big doors shut in our faces. But we persevered and opened those doors. In doing so, we didn’t just document the rise of the African American entrepreneur; we became the uplifting force driving that ascent, showing our readers what could be done and giving them the tools to achieve it.
I’m proud of our history, but I’m even more proud of what Black Enterprise is now—a full-service media entity that uses cutting-edge communication technology to reach our audience wherever they are, however they need us 24/7/365.
Now, I’m the first to admit it; I’m no techie. To me “tweets” are something birds do. And while I have at last mastered sending faxes, my grandchildren tell me there’s no one left alive who still owns a fax machine so I needn’t bother.
Fortunately, I’ve entrusted Black Enterprise to my son, President & CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr., who does get the new technology and is adapting the Black Enterprise brand to formats that haven’t even been invented yet! That’s how you need to think as you go forward.
You have to look for opportunities in trends, technologies, and emerging markets that are on the horizon. I did the same thing when I started Black Enterprise 40 years ago. I sensed that the social progress African Americans had made in the civil rights era were about to bear fruit. And it’s what Butch has done in anticipating the explosion of new media. Soon it will be your turn.