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The African American Community Empowerment Plan

A commitment to change the financial future of African Americans.

Each generation of the African American community stands proudly on the legacy of everyday heroes and civil rights leaders. We have a responsibility to live up to the legacy of those who came before us by doing all that we can do to help those who will come after us. Together, we can ensure the stability of our community, help create economic opportunity, and begin building multi-generational wealth.

We can achieve even more

New York Life Insurance is ready to lead you on a financial path that can help you protect your dreams and build for your family’s future.

Our African American market agents are working toward the goal of generating $50 billion of generally tax-free future income every five years. To do this, they will help protect the dreams of 200,000 African American families by showing each one how purchasing at least $250,000 of life insurance today can lead to a more financially secure tomorrow.

It starts with you

When you meet with one of our agents to discuss your financial dreams, they will help you:

  • Build personal financial empowerment plans, with life insurance as one of the foundations
  • Become a wealth creator in your community
  • Raise financially responsible children

New York Life has more than 1,100 agents serving the African American community. These dedicated professionals are all eager to help individuals, families and businesses create estates and financial legacies for the next generation.

This could be a life-changing conversation!

Join the movement

Are you ready to become one of the 200,000 families creating a brighter tomorrow? Are you ready to create your own personal financial empowerment plan? Then complete the contact form on this page, call (877) 695-4226, or e-mail NYL_AAM@newyorklife.com.

Learn more about New York Life making a difference in the African American Community. Log on to www.newyorklife.com/africanamerican

Learn more about New York Life’s purpose-driven Agent career. Log on to www.newyorklife.com/africanamericancareers

  • 1800s

    On April 19, 1848, approximately 15 years before the Emancipation Proclamation, the trustees of New York Life’s predecessor, Nautilus, voted to end the sale of policies that insured the lives of slaves, a standard practice of the day, with the slave owner receiving the policy’s proceeds.

    1. 1842
    2. 1843
    3. 1843
    4. 1845
    5. 1846
    6. 1847
    7. 1848
    8. 1849
    9. 1850
    10. 1851
  • 1957

    New York Life hires Cirilo A. McSween, a black Panamanian immigrant, who becomes both the company’s and the industry’s first African-American Agent.

    During his first year McSween sells more than $1 million in life insurance and qualifies for the Million Dollar Round Table, an industry sales association, and for 26 consecutive years thereafter, making him the first African-American to achieve lifetime membership in the prestigious MDRT.

    1. 1951
    2. 1952
    3. 1953
    4. 1954
    5. 1955
    6. 1956
    7. 1957
    8. 1958
    9. 1959
    10. 1960
  • 1960s

    Samuel “The Colonel” Anderson becomes our first African American general manager. After a 22-year military career Anderson joined the company as an Agent in April 1963. In 1965, he was appointed assistant manager and three years later, general manager. In 1969, he wins the President’s Trophy and goes on to become the President of the National Association of Life Underwriters. In 1962, New York Life begins running an ad series created for the African-American community in Ebony, a magazine created for black readers.

    1. 1954
    2. 1955
    3. 1956
    4. 1957
    5. 1958
    6. 1959
    7. 1960
    8. 1961
    9. 1962
    10. 1963
  • 1970s

    In 1972 New York Life appoints its first black board member, Franklin Thomas, the president of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corp. in New York City, a nonprofit organization founded by the late Senator Robert Kennedy.

    1. 1964
    2. 1965
    3. 1966
    4. 1967
    5. 1968
    6. 1969
    7. 1970
    8. 1971
    9. 1972
    10. 1973
  • 1980s

    In 1980, Cassius Williams is promoted to Superintendent of Agencies. He previously served as an Agent, assistant manager and general manager, and eventually becomes the first African American to be promoted to regional vice president for Agency. He later serves as managing partner of the Greater Atlanta GO, before retiring after 32 years of service.

    During the 1980s, Margaret B. Young, serves on our board of directors. Formerly a professor of educational psychology, Young wrote several books for children about the African-American experience. Her husband, Whitney M. Young Jr. served as the executive director of the National Urban League, from 1961-1971.

    1. 1974
    2. 1975
    3. 1976
    4. 1977
    5. 1978
    6. 1979
    7. 1980
    8. 1981
    9. 1982
    10. 1983
  • 1990s

    New York Life and Black Enterprise Magazine co-sponsor the African-American Student Scholarship, awarding $10,000 toward the college education of deserving high school seniors.

    1. 1984
    2. 1985
    3. 1986
    4. 1987
    5. 1988
    6. 1989
    7. 1990
    8. 1991
    9. 1992
    10. 1993
  • 2002

    NYL Agent Rashford Mendes becomes the first African American president of the NYC Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.

    The NYL Foundation funds 38 internships for African American students to work on Capitol Hill.

    NYL and founder the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, partner to provide financial education seminars to African Americans through community churches.

    The company sponsors three projects focusing on the Jim Crow era: jimcrowhistory.org, a painting exhibition And an award-winning PBS series.

    1. 1996
    2. 1997
    3. 1998
    4. 1999
    5. 2000
    6. 2001
    7. 2002
    8. 2003
    9. 2004
    10. 2005
  • 2003

    The company establishes the African American Market Unit of the Agency Cultural Markets Department with the goal of increasing sales to the African American community, as well as improving African American Agent recruiting, productivity and retention.

    New York Life is named by Family Digest as one of the “Best Companies for African Americans. ” It was one of nine companies highlighted by the magazine after a survey of 400 companies.

    1. 1997
    2. 1998
    3. 1999
    4. 2000
    5. 2001
    6. 2002
    7. 2003
    8. 2004
    9. 2005
    10. 2006
  • 2004

    We establish the Cirilo A. McSween - New York Life - PUSH Excel Scholarship Program to benefit college students from underserved communities in Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, and metropolitan New York who are majoring in business and who play an active role in their communities.

    1. 1998
    2. 1999
    3. 2000
    4. 2001
    5. 2002
    6. 2003
    7. 2004
    8. 2005
    9. 2006
    10. 2007
  • 2005

    The New York Life Foundation awards a three—year, $600,000 grant to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, one of the world’s leading research facilities devoted to the preservation of materials on the global African experience.

    New York Life is the sole corporate underwriter of Slavery and the Making of America, the Emmy and Christopher Award-winning four-part series from Thirteen/WNET New York, which premiers on PBS in February.

    1. 1999
    2. 2000
    3. 2001
    4. 2002
    5. 2003
    6. 2004
    7. 2005
    8. 2006
    9. 2007
    10. 2008
  • 2006

    New York Life’s African American Market Unit hosts its first national conference in Las Vegas, honoring four individuals, including Cirilo McSween, Samuel Anderson, Cassius Williams and Carl Peterman, with a “Trailblazer Award” in recognition of their lifetime achievements in the insurance industry, the African American community and at New York Life.

    The New York Life Foundation donates $10 million to the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies at the City College of New York to support students focusing on African-American issues.

    1. 2000
    2. 2001
    3. 2002
    4. 2003
    5. 2004
    6. 2005
    7. 2006
    8. 2007
    9. 2008
    10. 2009
  • 2008

    New York Life establishes five employee resource groups, including the African American Employee Resource Group.

    1. 2002
    2. 2003
    3. 2004
    4. 2005
    5. 2006
    6. 2007
    7. 2008
    8. 2009
    9. 2010
    10. 2011
  • 2011

    The African American Market Unit launches “The $50 Billion Empowerment Plan, ” an initiative aiming to empower, educate, and insure 200,000 families in the African American community with a life insurance policy face amount of $250,000 by 2016.

    1. 2005
    2. 2006
    3. 2007
    4. 2008
    5. 2009
    6. 2010
    7. 2011
    8. 2012
    9. 2013
    10. 2014
  • 2013

    The African American Market Unit of the Agency Cultural Markets Department celebrates its 10th year of serving the life insurance and financial services needs of the community, the building of the Agency sales force to over 1,000 African American agents (up from 535 in 2003), and placing over $18.7 billion toward the $50 Billion Empowerment Plan.

    The African American Market Unit, in conjunction with the King Center's celebration of the 50th anniversary of “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” and Dr. King’s legendary “I Have A Dream“ speech. proclaims August 28 as Cirilo A. McSween Community Empowerment Day. The day honors New York Life’s first African American Agent, who also served as the treasurer of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for Dr. Martin Luther King.

    1. 2007
    2. 2008
    3. 2009
    4. 2010
    5. 2011
    6. 2012
    7. 2013
    8. 2014
    9. 2015
    10. 2016