Barbara Kydd Graves, wife of Black Enterprise founder Earl Graves Sr., and mother of current Black Enterprise President and CEO Earl Graves Jr., died yesterday at Howard University Hospital at the age of 74 after a three-year battle with gall bladder cancer.
Barbara was the matriarch of a black business empire that helped shape the image of the black businessman and entrepreneur over the past four decades. She was an instrumental force in the company and its growth and development over the years, holding every major title within the publishing company—from editorial direction and circulation director to chief financial officer. Graves, a former elementary school teacher and alumna of Brooklyn College, was co-founder and guiding presence behind the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit, a premier networking event and conference for women executives of color.
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“My mother was a steadfast and loving partner and counselor to my father; his quiet source of strength and inspiration,” Earl Graves Jr., president and CEO of Black Enterprise, said in a statement. “She served as mentor and guide to several generations of employees, managers and professionals. Above all, she genuinely cared for every member of the Black Enterprise family, and held a special passion for children and young people in particular.”