Tribute: Morgan State University To Celebrate The Life Of Earl G. Graves, Sr., Founder of Black Enterprise
Morgan State University will host a tribute to the memory of its alumnus Earl G. Graves Sr, founder of Black Enterprise, the magazine launched in 1970 for Black professionals and entrepreneurs.
Graves died in 2020, and due to safety restrictions during the height of the pandemic, no memorial at the university was held at the time. This celebration of his life has been in planning for over a year.
Family and friends of Graves, Morgan State University president Dr. David K. Wilson, and civil rights leaders will gather at the Earl Graves School of Business and Management in tribute to Graves’s legacy.
“[Graves] significantly impacted literally millions of others, including generations of Black entrepreneurs, corporate executives, leaders across all professions, and the loyal subscribers of Black Enterprise magazine,” said his son and current CEO of Black Enterprise, Earl “Butch” Graves.
The event is open to the public and will be live-streamed today at BlackEnterprise.com.
Who was he?
Mr. Graves created Black Enterprise in 1970 with a $175,000 loan and the backing of advertisers he courted himself. The magazine was designed to appeal to newly ascendant African-American professionals, to encourage young people to become entrepreneurs in their own right, and to make black executives a more recognizable part of American corporate culture.
“I was just another entrepreneur who believed in himself,” Mr. Graves told The Post-Standard of Syracuse, N.Y., in 2005. “The only difference was that I was black.”
Mr. Graves set up a board of powerful African-American advisers, including Senator Edward W. Brooke III of Massachusetts, Representative Shirley Chisholm of New York and Julian Bond, the civil rights activist and a founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center. To build an audience, he sent free copies of Black Enterprise to black professionals, ministers and politicians and many corporations.
In 1997 Mr. Graves published “How to Succeed in Business Without Being White: Straight Talk on Making it in America,” which he wrote with Wes Smith. The book, a New York Times best seller, included concrete lessons on networking, maximizing career opportunities and building wealth gleaned from Mr. Graves’s lifetime of entrepreneurship. It also emphasized that Mr. Graves saw the goal as an equal chance at success rather than special treatment.
“The white-dominated business world needs to understand that we don’t want charity,” he wrote. “We want to do business. We don’t want guaranteed success. We want the opportunity to earn it.”