Earl G. Graves
In 1972, he was named one of the 10 most outstanding minority businessmen in the country by the president of the United States and received the National Award of Excellence in recognition of his achievements in minority business enterprise. He is also listed in Who’s Who in America and was named one of 200 future leaders of the country by Time magazine in 1974.
Today he is chairman of Earl G. Graves Ltd., parent corporation of Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., publisher of Black Enterprisemagazine—a business-service publication targeted to black professionals, executives, entrepreneurs, and policy makers in the public and private sector. Black Enterprisemagazine has been profitable since its 10th issue and yearly sales are steadily increasing. The magazine has a paid circulation of 500,000 with a readership of approximately 4 million. Since 1997, the magazine has been a five-time recipient of the FOLIO: Editorial Excellence Award in the business/finance consumer magazine category.
In January 2006, Graves named his eldest son, Earl “Butch” Graves, the company’s new chief executive officer. The promotion of Graves Jr. to CEO represents the transition of Earl G. Graves Ltd. to the next generation of leadership. His formal title is president and CEO.
Earl G. Graves Sr. was previously chairman and CEO of Pepsi-Cola of Washington, D.C., L.P., the largest minority-controlled Pepsi-Cola franchise in the United States. The company spanned a franchise territory of more than 400 square miles, including Washington, D.C. and Prince George’s County, Maryland. He acquired the $60 million franchise in July 1990 and at the end of 1998, sold it back to the parent company for which he continued to be actively involved as chairman of the Pepsi African-American Advisory Board. In March 2005, Pepsi awarded him the Harvey C. Russell Inclusion Award, recognizing him for outstanding achievement in support of PepsiCo’s diversity and inclusion efforts.
Graves is a staunch advocate of higher education and equal opportunity. In recognition of his support of entrepreneurial education and his many years of contributing to Morgan State University, including a $1 million gift to advance business education, the University renamed its school of business and management the Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management. The announcement was made by University President Dr. Earl Richardson during the Black Enterprise25th Anniversary Gala on Aug. 9, 1995.
Graves was an administrative assistant to the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy from 1965 to 1968. After Senator Kennedy’s assassination, Graves formed his own management consulting firm to advise corporations on urban affairs and economic development. His firm’s clients included major multinational companies.
Graves is currently a director of Aetna Inc. He retired from the boards of AMR Corp. (American Airlines), DaimlerChrysler AG Corp., Federated Department Stores, Inc., and Rohm & Haas Corporation.
In 2002, Fortune magazine named Graves one of the 50 most powerful and influential African Americans in corporate America. He holds a seat on the board of selectors of the American Institute for Public Service, the Advisory Council of the Character Education Partnership, the board of the Steadman-Hawkins Sports Medicine Foundation, the board of The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the national advisory board of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. He is also a trustee of Howard University, the Committee for Economic Development, the Special Contributions Fund of the NAACP, and the New York Economic Club. Graves wasappointed to serve on a presidential commission for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and was a civilian aide to the secretary of the U.S. Army from 1978 to 1980.
In 2007, Graves was inducted into the U.S. Business Hall of Fame, which recognizes the contributions of the nation’s most distinguished corporate professionals who have enriched the econonmy and inspired young people to pursue excellence in business and in life.