Black Enterprise said in a statement that Graves had been fighting gall-bladder cancer for more than three years when she died at Howard University Hospital in Washington. She was 74.
Graves, the wife of Black Enterprise founder and publisher Earl G. Graves Sr., was involved in the magazine from its start in 1970. She held a number of positions with the company including chief financial officer and circulation director.
In 2010, in a magazine column commemorating the publication’s 40th anniversary, Earl Graves wrote that in the early days his wife “did just about everything there is to do” to put out a magazine. She wrote and edited, designed layouts, served as the sales director and office manager and “was vice president in charge of shutting down the publisher's bad ideas,” Graves said.
The monthly magazine now has a circulation of 500,000 in the United States and a readership of 4 million according to Black Enterprise.
Barbara Graves, an elementary school teacher and graduate of Brooklyn College, met her husband on a blind date while he was in the Army.
“She was very attractive, very bright, and not impressed at all by my, you know, Army outfit on,” Earl Graves said in a 2006 interview with civil rights leader Julian Bond that was done for The HistoryMakers, a video archive of African American oral histories.
Barbara Graves is survived by her husband and their three children. The eldest son, Earl Graves Jr., is now the president and CEO of Black Enterprise. The other two sons, Johnny Graves and Michael Graves, have also worked as executives at Black Enterprise.
Photo: Barbara Kydd Graves