Updated: Nov 21, 2021
By Tammy Reese
Best-selling children’s author/speaker/producer/singer-songwriter Anna Nyakana received this year’s National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE) Living Legend Award at the 49th Annual NABSE Conference on Saturday, November 13th at the LAX Marriott Hotel.
The award is bestowed upon individuals who have undergone great personal and professional sacrifice in the service of educational advancement for African Americans. According to the NABSE, Ms. Nyakana was selected because she “demonstrates excellence and the highest standards of ethical conduct, integrity, and civic and social responsibility.” She will deliver an acceptance speech at the ceremony.
The best-selling author has been recognized previously with numerous awards for her two multi-cultural children’s books, “Niyah Zuri and The Pharaoh’s Throne” and “Niyah Zuri and the Mayan Eclipse.” The clever tales relate to the epic adventures of fearless black heroine Niyah Zuri and her best friends, the Gonzales twins. Together, the time-traveling youngsters learn lessons about overcoming fear, self-empowerment, and chasing dreams, all while walking through history. Nyakana explains that “it’s really just about uplifting youth to believe in themselves and walk purposely in their passions.”
A mother of two young boys herself, Nyakana is proud of the social impact that the book series is making. Not only has it inspired the custom curriculum that she’s developed and brought into numerous schools and school districts, but it’s also inspired a growing movement.
“It’s creating a huge opportunity to instill the understanding of embracing cultures that are different from your own. That way, 20 or 30 years from now, we’ll have adults that understand how to love others and not have hatred or prejudices because of ignorance,” Nyakana suggests.
Recently, the author has been preparing to pitch to networks a Niyah Zuri cartoon series that will further share the message with children and their parents. Because the empowerment of women in business is equally important to her, she has also been extending her message to adults by appearing on podcasts and serving as a motivational speaker.
“I feel that we’re not made aware of the resources and things that are available to us. [It’s important to] allow women to find their power and let them know how to create a business plan, how to strategize, how to build their network… But also, the end of the day, just to have the courage to bet on themselves,” Nyakana maintains.
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