Black Enterprise 50th Anniversary Hub Highlights Legacy of Earl Graves
BE 50th Anniversary

LIVE TODAY: 50th Anniversary Hub Highlighting Legacy of Late Earl Graves Sr. and Impact of Magazine

earl graves sr 50th anniversary
As founder and publisher of BLACK ENTERPRISE, Earl G. Graves. Sr. created a vehicle to provide information and advocacy that has enabled three generations of African Americans to build wealth through business ownership, career advancement, and money management. He used his media company to open doors for the best and brightest in the global business arena.

This “Champion of Black Business" used his media outlet and service on numerous corporate boards to serve as a powerful voice for diversity and inclusion within the executive suite and supply chain as well as wealth-building efforts for African Americans. This message was delivered through a magazine; website; two television shows, Black Enterprise Business Report and Our World with Black Enterprise; and a series of conferences. Key to his mission: Creation of empowerment and aspirational vehicles like the BE 100s - the national barometer of black business - and Wealth for Life.

An inductee into the U.S. Business Hall of Fame and recipient of the NAACP Spingarn Medal, Graves had also served as chairman and CEO of Pepsi-Cola of Washington, D.C., L.P., the nation’s largest minority-controlled Pepsi-Cola franchise from 1990 and to the end of 1998 when it was sold back to the parent company. In 1997, at the time of honor, Graves owned and operated two companies on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE list: Pepsi-Cola of Washington, D.C. ranked No. 33 with gross sales of $56 million, and Earl G. Graves, Ltd., parent of BE, at No. 73 with gross sales of $30 million.

In January 2006, Graves named his eldest son, Earl “Butch” Graves, Jr. as CEO. With that promotion, Graves Jr. represents the transition to the next generation of leadership, one that will continue the mission through expansion of the franchise across various media platforms.

BLACK ENTERPRISE has launched a yearlong multimedia tribute to Earl Graves Sr., in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the iconic magazine he founded in 1970. BE: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence will feature exclusive video tributes from CEOs, corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, and others from all walks of life who were impacted by Graves, who passed away on April 6, 2020 at the age of 85, and Black Enterprise magazine. The multimedia tribute will add exclusive content through 2021, including the publishing of a special limited-edition issue of Black Enterprise magazine celebrating the life and legacy of its visionary founder and leader.

BE: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence will feature an interactive timeline of Black business milestones chronicled by Black Enterprise over the past 50 years, as well as personal tributes from those who knew and where inspired by Graves, and whose lives, careers, and businesses were personally impacted by Black Enterprise. Included among the leaders and luminaries paying tribute are General Catalyst Chairman and former American Express Chairman & CEO Kenneth I. Chenault, former NBA Chief Marketing Officer Pam El, AutoZone CEO William Rhodes III, Entertainment Studios CEO Byron Allen, and Morgan State University President Dr. David Wilson.

“Our multimedia celebration of the life and legacy of my father and the visionary founder of our company is our way of leveraging what he built to do what he did best—inspire us all to reach beyond limits on behalf of ourselves and of others,” says Black Enterprise President and CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. “It is thanks to our evolution from the single-magazine publisher launched by my Dad in 1970, to the digital-first multimedia events company we are in 2020, that we are able to truly share the impact of Black Enterprise over the past 50 years.”

Black Enterprise initially served as a guidebook for African Americans to start and grow businesses, elevate themselves within corporate America, and follow the path to multigenerational success. In the process, the magazine placed a bright spotlight on the achievement of African Americans that served as instruction and inspiration to generations of Black people aspiring to business, career, and financial success—through annual listings of the nation’s largest Black-owned business; the advent of the first African American billionaires; and the journeys of African Americans who rose to the pinnacles of power and influence, including corporate boardrooms, the C-Suite, and the White House. Over the past five decades, Black Enterprise, led by Publisher Graves, served as the biggest and most impactful advocate for the financial and economic empowerment of African Americans and the elimination of barriers to equal opportunity.

Sponsors of BE: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence include AARP, American Airlines, Equitable, Merck, Morgan Stanley, Nationwide, Pfizer and Prudential. Go to the 50th anniversary hub at to see new exclusive content through 2021.

BE 50th Anniversary Hub