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Academy of Achievement Earl Graves

Earl G. Graves

Inducted 2005

Earl G. Graves is a nationally recognized authority on Black business development and the founder and publisher of BLACK ENTERPRISE Magazine. In 1972, he was named one of the ten 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 in 1974, was named one of Time Magazine’s 200 future leaders of the country.

Today, he is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Earl G. Graves, Ltd., parent corporation for the Earl G. Graves Publishing Company, publisher of BLACK ENTERPRISE Magazine–a business-service publication targeted to black professionals, executives, entrepreneurs and policy makers in the public and private sector. It has been profitable since its tenth issue and yearly sales (currently over $53 million) are steadily increasing. BLACK ENTERPRISE has a paid circulation of 500,000 with a readership of more than 3.8 million. It is carried on board most major airlines, and can be found on newsstands nationwide. Since 1997, the magazine has been a five-time recipient of the FOLIO: Editorial Excellence Award in the category of Business/Finance consumer magazines.

Earl G. Graves also served as Chairman and CEO of Pepsi-Cola of Washington, D.C., L.P., the largest minority-controlled Pepsi-Cola franchise in the United States. He acquired the $60 million franchise in July of 1990. The company covers a franchise territory of over 400 square miles including Washington, D.C. and Prince George’s County, Maryland. At year-end 1998, he sold the franchise back to the parent company where he continues to be actively involved as Chairman of the Pepsi African-American Advisory Board.

Mr. 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 ENTERPRISE 25th Anniversary Gala on August 9, 1995.

Mr. Graves was an Administrative Assistant to the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy from 1965 to 1968. After Senator Kennedy’s assassination, Mr. Graves formed his own management consulting firm to advise corporations on urban affairs and economic development. Included among the firm’s clients were major multinational companies.

Mr. Graves serves as a Director of Aetna, Inc., AMR Corporation (American Airlines), DaimlerChrysler AG Corporation, Federated Department Stores, Inc., and Rohm & Haas Corporation. In addition, Mr. Graves serves as a volunteer on the boards of TransAfrica Inc. and the American Museum of Natural History and Planetarium.

In 2002, Mr. Graves was named by Fortune Magazine as one of the 50 most powerful and influential African Americans in corporate America and also was appointed to serve on the current administration’s Presidential Commission for the National Museum of African American History and Culture. He also serves 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 Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the National Advisory Board of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. In addition, Mr. Graves is a trustee of Howard University, the Committee for Economic Development, the Special Contributions Fund of the NAACP and the New York Economic Club. He also served as a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the U.S. Army from 1978 to 1980.

Mr. Graves is a ROTC graduate, attended Airborne and Ranger School and finished his Army Career (in the rank of Captain) as a member to the 19th Special Forces Group, the Green Berets. He is also the recipient of the U.S. Army Commendation Award.

Long active in Scouting, Mr. Graves currently serves as a Vice President of the National Executive Board and is also a member of the Marketing Committee for the National Office of the Boy Scouts of America. He was formerly National Commissioner of Scouting, and Chairman of the National Communications Committee. Mr. Graves is the recipient of scouting’s highest recognition awards for volunteer service: the Silver Buffalo Award, 1988; the Silver Antelope Award, 1986; and the Silver Beaver Award, 1969.

During the span of his business and professional career, Mr. Graves has received numerous awards and honors for his outstanding business leadership and community service. In 1998, he received the Marietta Tree Award for Public Service from the Citizens Committee for New York City, Inc.; the Charles Evans Hughes Gold Medal Award from The National Conference for Community and Justice; the Ronald H. Brown Leadership Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce; and the Merrick-Moore Spaulding National Achievement Award at the 100th Anniversary celebration of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, among others. In 1995, he was named New York City Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young, and was also inducted into the National Sales Hall of Fame by the Association of Sales and Marketing Executives. Other awards include the Dow Jones & Company Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence in 1992; the 1991 “Free Enterprise Award” from the International Franchise Association; and the New York State Regents Medal of Excellence. In 1999 he received the 84th NAACP Spingarn Medal, the highest achievement award for African Americans and was named one of the Top 100 Business News Luminaries of the Century by TJFR, a publication that covers business journalism. In that same year, he also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

Mr. Graves is a member of the National Black College Hall of Fame and has also lectured at Yale University as a Poynter Fellow. He received his B.A. degree in economics from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, and has received honorary degrees from over 60 colleges and universities, including his alma mater.

Elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000, Mr. Graves is continually sought after as a keynote speaker by small and large corporations, as well as the public and non-profit sectors of business in America. He has authored a book entitled, “How to Succeed in Business Without Being White,” which chronicles his strategies for success. Published by HarperBusiness Publications, the book was released in April 1997 and made the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal Business Best Sellers lists. It was also selected as a finalist for the 1997 Financial Times/Booz-Allen & Hamilton Global Business Book Award.

Mr. Graves was born in Brooklyn, New York andcurrently resides in Westchester County with his wife, Barbara, of 44 years. Mr. and Mrs. Graves have three married sons, all successful professionals who work in the family’s businesses.