New York City; and the late Ron Brown would become the first African American to head the Democratic National Committee and, eventually, serve as this nation’s best and most proactive commerce secretary.
Because of the impact of our message, I have received 44 honorary degrees, been named one of the The Journal of Financial Reporting Group’s Top 100 Business Journalism Luminaries of the Century, been made a Fellow of the Academy of Arts & Sciences, and have been awarded the honor that has given me immeasurable pride, the NAACP’s Spingarn Award, which is considered the highest civil rights accolade in the nation. I have always said that these awards recognize the magazine’s role in uplifting African Americans.
By showcasing their achievements as well as gaining a forum to address the issues of the day, we helped fuel the aspirations of generations of black entrepreneurs and business people. But, along the way, we challenged you, our readers, to use the wealth that you have amassed to support black institutions and civil rights organizations. I will continue to use my Publisher’s Page to urge you and, at times, admonish you to stand in harm’s way — to fight diligently and persistently for those programs, projects, and opportunities that will enable us to advance as a people. We must not still our voices as affirmative action continues to be dismantled, institutional racism goes unchecked, and there is still an open season on black youth.
Our 30th anniversary gives me a chance to pause, to reflect on what we have achieved. It signals an opportunity for us to renew our commitment, collectively and individually. To kick off our anniversary celebration, we developed the Black Wealth Initiative, a program that I view as one of our most important going forward. Its cornerstone is our Declaration of Financial Empowerment, which reveals 10 basic principles, and the Wealth Building Kit that novices can use to get started and seasoned investors can use as a reference to stay on track.
This has not been a solo flight. I could not have taken black enterprise from a newsletter concept to Earl G. Graves Ltd., a thriving entity that publishes an award-winning magazine and business newsletters for professionals and youth; produces a series of successful conferences; posts a Website that enables users to access information and make financial and business transactions; and a venture capital firm, black enterprise/Greenwich Street Corporate Growth Partners, which funds mid-size black businesses, without the support of family, friends, and business associates nor the energy and commitment of our talented staff. In fact, black enterprise has been responsible for the development of a generation of business journalists, many of whom have worked in our offices and found their first opportunities writing and covering stories for our magazine.
Above all, I would not have succeeded in this venture without the love and support of my wife, Barbara. Over the past four decades, she has held roles as our circulation director, editorial director, chief financial officer, and my most trusted advisor and confidante.