All week long we’ve been celebrating the legacy of Black Enterprise founder Earl Graves Sr., as the tributes poured in after his death, and sharing some of the wisdom he imparted over his legendary business career.
Much of that advice was shared by Graves in his own words over the past 50 years in the pages of Black Enterprise magazine through his award-winning Publisher’s Page column.
Here are some of the highlights of his most profound statements from the past five decades.
Why Black Enterprise?
The black businessman, and entrepreneurs from other minorities, have for the most part been systematically excluded from any meaningful participation in the economic mainstream. They have been the “missing link” in the chain of benefits which have sprung from the American enterprises that have built our ever-increasing gross national product. Black sweat, black muscles and black brains have contributed greatly to that gross national product, but at the same time black entrepreneurs have not profited—neither fully nor fairly—in its rewards.
How to Deal With Corporate Downsizing
It is up to back Americans to gain a foothold in mainstream society. We can do this by leveraging our dollars, using them to patronize companies that actively hire and promote black Americans. We can do this by starting our own businesses, thereby creating jobs for others blacks and stimulating economic growth in our communities. We can do this by flexing our political muscle, registering and organizing to have a massive impact on the … presidential and congressional elections, as well as local races.
If we are to achieve parity, we must strive for excellence in the classroom and the workplace as a means of forcing open the doors of opportunity.
Contract on America
We thought we could concentrate on strengthening our own nation—repairing our economy, battling unemployment, improving education—now that America is a superpower without enemies. However, we forgot about the enemy within—virulent intolerance.
The authors of an insidious new book, The Bell Curve, say that black people are, for the most part, intellectually inferior and, therefore, equal access to employment and educational opportunities is wasted on them and their children.
As long as the denial of opportunity can be justified by charges that those being denied are inherently inferior, the American dream can never be fully realized, and the freedom and security of all Americans are at risk.
Let Wealth Be Our Legacy
We take wealth-building pretty seriously. But what do we mean by financial empowerment? How about freedom from the shame of being not unwilling, but unable to tithe to your church, despite being blessed with more income in one year than your parents (who have always tithed) earned in their working lifetimes. Or the ability to abandon an unrewarding career to make your entrepreneurial dreams come true? Or the peace of knowing that your children, as well as your children’s children, are guaranteed a college education? Or the security of being able to afford the best medical care available for an ailing parent? Or the sense of fulfillment that results from your writing a personal check to keep the doors open to the community center that provides a safe haven for your kids until you get home from work?
By choosing to build lasting personal wealth, you’ll be providing a greater measure of financial empowerment for us all.
Our History Is a Source of Wealth We Can’t Afford to Lose
It saddens and alarms me that so many people—and especially young people—seemingly embrace ignorance of history as a badge of honor. They tragically, mistakenly believe that if it didn’t happen in their lifetimes, it’s not worth knowing. It’s a confounding paradox: In an age where we have easy access, thanks to innovations such as Google and Wikipedia, to near limitless amounts of information, we are increasingly disinclined to acquire knowledge and wisdom.
Our lack of appreciation for history not only threatens to undermine the gains and progress of the very events and people we deem worthy of our attention, but places in jeopardy the very survival of our people. As a result, we too often forfeit the inspirational examples that can drive us forward to greater success, while dismissing the harsh lessons of adversity that previous generations learned so that we could be spared the suffering they endured to acquire that knowledge.
Find more of his Publisher’s Page columns here.