For Immediate Release
February 23, 2012
Contact Information

Aetna Media Contact:
Scot Roskelley

(BPRW) Aetna's 2012 African American History Calendar Highlights Entrepreneurship in the Community

- Fourteen entrepreneurs from around the country featured -

(BLACK PR WIRE) – HARTFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--When searching historical records for documentation of African American history, often missing are stories of African Americans who forged and encouraged economic liberation through entrepreneurship and business enterprise. Aetna (NYSE: AET) chronicles the timeline of some of the most groundbreaking and inspiring business achievements of African Americans in the last 200+ years and tells today’s stories of 14 young entrepreneurs from around the U.S. in its 31st annual African American History Calendar titled “Celebrating Innovation: Leading the next generation of business.”

“Black business history dates back to Colonial America,” writes Dr. Juliet E.K. Walker, founder and director of the Center for Black Business History, Entrepreneurship and Technology at the University of Texas at Austin, where she also serves as a history professor. In the calendar’s introduction, she explains: “Until the Civil War, both slaves and free blacks worked as business owners in the preindustrial mainstream business community.

“Most successful black businesspeople were wholesale and retail merchants, as well as lumber and coal merchants. Some were commission brokers, as well as manufacturers. Blacks also owned steamships and railroad cars. Others invested in government, and commercial stocks and bonds. Several achieved wealth in excess of $100,000, particularly those who owned large real estate holdings and plantations. Blacks also were involved in international trade. African American women have a historic tradition in business dating back to Colonial Times, too.”

Mark T. Bertolini, CEO and president of Aetna, said, “Like those pioneers from years ago, the 14 young entrepreneurs honored in this year’s calendar all believed it was possible to do something extraordinary with their lives. They were born with an entrepreneurial spirit. Many entered into business for themselves before the age of 10. Aetna traveled across the country to gain perspectives from young entrepreneurs who, despite humble beginnings, have already earned millions, sold and purchased businesses, formed a foundation to support youth, authored books and even had their faces pictured on credit cards.”

“Aetna is proud to mark the 31st year of our African American History Calendar,” said Floyd Green, Aetna’s head of community relations and urban marketing. “This is a celebration of the remarkable ambition of young entrepreneurs who are working day and night to make a difference in the communities where they live and work.”

Entrepreneurs featured in the calendar represent a wide diversity of businesses and pursuits. For example, 23-year-old Chicago area twins, Ashton and Ryan Clark, own multiple online businesses. Natalia Allen, from White Plains, N.Y., owns a company hired by DuPont to integrate conductive fibers into fashion. The result: clothing with electronics, lights and displays smart enough to monitor heart rates. Allen also has designed eco-innovative clothing for brands such as DKNY®, Calvin Klein®, and Quiksilver®. James Taylor, a former professional basketball player and high school teacher from South Florida, runs a youth sports development agency. The company offers one-on-one basketball lessons, a basketball summer camp and basketball academies.

Other entrepreneurs profiled in the 2012 calendar are:

•Hamet Watt, co-founder of bLife, Inc., with a mission to develop engaging and effective science-based tools that enable people to lead healthier and happier lives; 

•Gabrielle Jordan Williams, who launched Jewelz of Jordan and makes quality children’s jewelry. As a fifth-grade student, she wrote The Making of a Young Entrepreneur; 

•Dr. Farrah Gray, founder and CEO of Farrah Gray Foundation, which teaches inner-city and high-risk youth how to become entrepreneurs; 

•Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter, Inc., which creates and sells innovative hair, body and bath, and skincare products; 

•Kenneth L. Harris, President and CEO of the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, with a goal of reinvigorating Michigan; 

•Jermaine Griggs, Founder of Hear and Play Music, a company that produces instructional DVDs for learning to play music; 

•Khary and Selena Cuffe, co-founders, CEO and CFO of Heritage Link Brands, LLC, which imports South African wines; 

•Tina Wells, CEO and Founder of Buzz Marketing Group, which helps clients build prosperous connections with the youth market; and 

•Amos Winbush, III, Founder and CEO of CyberSynchs, which created and sells a platform allowing consumers to synch data across operating systems and devices.

The 2012 African American History Calendar – Celebrating Innovation: Leading the next generation of business – is available for $4 by calling 860-273-0509. The online version of the calendar is available at Aetna’s diversity website:  

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