Malcolm Graham is an experienced businessman and entrepreneur, dedicated public servant, and powerful public speaker and media commentator, especially on the topics of government and public affairs, race and discrimination, civic engagement, common-sense gun laws, affordable housing, and responsible, community-first development. A native of Charleston, South Carolina, he’s been a Charlotte resident since 1981, when he moved to the city to attend Johnson C. Smith University on a tennis scholarship.
With one goal in mind — to make Charlotte a better place for everyone to work, live, and play — Council Member Graham's career has taken him through west Charlotte neighborhoods, Bank of America and TimeWarner Cable boardrooms, and legislative halls. It’s this deep and varied experience in civic engagement, business development, public service, and nonprofit work that has become the foundation of his 30-year career in Charlotte. An early opportunity with the Carolinas Minority Supplier Development Councils turned into a ten-year career, where he learned the importance of small business to Charlotte’s economy.
Through stints at Bank of America and TimeWarner Cable, he ensured Charlotte businesses owned by people of color and women could be successful, and that key community contacts could partner together for maximum impact. The experiences of these roles prompted him to launch the Center for Supplier Diversity, a research firm that provides assessments and solutions to major corporations seeking to do business with small business owners. Through his work at Johnson C. Smith University, Graham pulled together a multisector task force to give the Historic West End its first facelift in nearly 40 years, spearheading a $70 million project that included housing for Johnson C. Smith, the Arts Factory, Mosaic Village, a public art light project, and secured $75 million of funding for a CityLYNX Gold Line streetcar extension.
On a parallel track to his professional career, Graham's interest in civic engagement was growing. He was elected to the Charlotte City Council in 1999 and served until 2005, where he helped to revitalize inner city communities and led the efforts to relocate the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament to Charlotte. He was then elected to the North Carolina Senate to represent District 40 (Mecklenburg County), and championed funds to build out the city’s light rail and legislation to tackle the rise of neighborhood gangs. He served in the senate through 2014.
When he lost his sister in a national tragedy — his sister, Cynthia Graham Hurd, was one of the nine parishioners killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in June 2015 — Graham responded by traveling the country speaking to communities about overcoming hatred. Along with his siblings, he founded the Cynthia Graham Hurd Center for Literacy and Civic Engagement to honor his sister, with the goal to advocate for the expansion of literacy and civic engagement through programming and events.
In 2019, Malcolm ran for and was elected to the Charlotte City Council after an almost 15-year hiatus, representing District 2. He currently chairs the Jobs and Economic Development Committee, which reviews and recommends policies that promote workforce development, economic opportunities and business growth. In 2020, he became the executive director for Beds for Kids, a Charlotte-area nonprofit that provides beds and essential furniture to children and families in need.
Graham's passion for community can be seen in all corners of his professional career, his public service, and his day-to-day life. It’s not a bullet point on the resume, it is the resume. It’s who Council Member Graham is.