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It all started nearly four decades ago with an idea: Without economic empowerment, the hard-fought political and social gains of the civil rights movement would never result in true freedom and equality for black Americans. That idea gave birth to a mission: to educate, inspire, and uplift black Americans by showing them how to thrive professionally, economically, and as empowered, proactive citizens. That mission, in turn, became the imperative that led to the creation of a magazine called BLACK ENTERPRISE.
Beginning with our very first issue, published in August 1970, we clearly stated our intent: “Lacking capital, managerial and technical knowledge, and crippled by prejudice, the minority businessman has been effectively kept out of the profitable corner of the American marketplace. We want to help change this.” And 37 years later, we are still committed to ensuring that all black Americans gain the opportunity to participate in the free enterprise system and secure a considerable measure of the American Dream.
However, while our mission remains largely the same, just about everything about how we carry out that mission is changing. After spending our first three decades as a single-title magazine publishing company, BLACK ENTERPRISE has been in a state of transformation over the past 10 years, emerging as a true multimedia brand for the 21st century. Indeed, a new generation of corporate leadership, led by my eldest son, President and CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr., is carrying out my vision in ways I could scarcely have imagined back in 1969. They are creating a diverse portfolio of media products and platforms designed to serve BE’s influential audience of financially savvy, entrepreneurial African Americans, as well as the companies that want to engage and do business with that audience. This portfolio of properties–ranging from interactive Web content and live events to television and radio–is designed to bring BE’s unparalleled combination of information and inspiration to you whenever and wherever you need it, whether you are a new college graduate looking to buy your first home, a young couple intent on accumulating wealth during your peak earning years, or a successful entrepreneur determined to establish a legacy of multigenerational wealth. As a result, BE’s mission is no longer limited to the 3.9 million readers of our magazine but extends to a much broader audience of Web visitors, radio listeners, television viewers, and event attendees. In fact, more than a third of the annual revenues earned by our company are generated by media products other than our magazine–a trend we fully expect to continue as we move forward. At the same time, our ventures in other areas of the media marketplace are designed to strengthen the revenue potential of the magazine as well.
Take our foray into television programming as an excellent example. In the past three years, in partnership with Chicago-based Central City Productions, we’ve launched not just one, but two top quality programs hosted by a pair of the most accomplished and respected journalists in the television news business. Our World with Black