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Black Enterprise Founder Earl Graves Sr. Dead At 85 After Battle with Alzheimer’s Disease

Earl Graves Sr., founder of Black Enterprise magazine, the first Black-owned magazine focused on African-American entrepreneurs, died Monday, April 6. Graves was 85 and died following a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the magazine. His son and namesake confirmed the news on Twitter.

“I loved and admired this giant of a man and am blessed to be his namesake. LOVE YOU DAD!” Earl Graves Jr., tweeted. The younger Graves is the current CEO of Black Enterprise.

Earl Graves Sr., founder of Black Enterprise, is dead at 85. (Photo by Jemal Countess/WireImage)

Graves Sr. founded Black Enterprise in 1970 after previously serving in the military and for three years as Robert F. Kennedy’s administrative assistant. He later explained his motivation for starting the publication in his New York Times’ bestselling book “How to Succeed in Business Without Being White,” per ABC News.

“The time was ripe for a magazine devoted to economic development in the African American community,” Graves wrote. “The publication was committed to the task of educating, inspiring and uplifting its readers. My goal was to show them how to thrive professionally, economically and as proactive, empowered citizens.”

The trailblazer also served on numerous corporate boards including for Chrysler, Macy’s and American Airlines. The accomplished businessman owned Pepsi-Cola of Washington, D.C. Graves was married to his wife Barbara for 37 years before she died in 2012. The couple raised three sons together, Earl Jr., Johnny and Michael. They are also survived by eight grandchildren.

He credited his wife for the eventual success of Black Enterprise.

“Black Enterprise was just a modest magazine when I founded it — just me, a few brave advertisers like Pepsi, ExxonMobil and General Motors; and a small but spirited staff,” he wrote. “And one other person who did just about everything there is to do to put out a magazine — my wife, Barbara.”

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

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