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Al-Nisa Banks

She was born in Henderson, TX. She is accomplished in the area of Media.
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A native of Henderson, Texas, Al-Nisa is the daughter of Billie and Eula Banks. She moved to Buffalo with her parents when she was four years old. She is the oldest of seven children. Al-Nisa grew up in the Black Rock section of Buffalo in the Jasper Parish Housing Projects. She recalls receiving her first typewriter, a Christmas present, when she was 12 years old. Thanks to this gift, she created her first newspaper, a one-pager which she entitled, "The Project News". It had a total circulation of one.

Al-Nisa attended Buffalo Public Schools and graduated from Riverside High School in 1965. She attended an Historically Black College, Paine College, in Augusta, Georgia. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. As an undergraduate, she was among the first ten students in the college's history to be named to Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities. She began her writing and journalism career while at Paine College. She served as editor of the college newspaper for two years. In her senior year, she won a national competition in the Reader's digest College Essay contest. Al-Nisa was the second African American to ever hold the position of general assignment reporter for the Augusta Chronicle newspaper.

Returning to Buffalo in 1971, she headed up and developed the curriculum for the first Freedom School in the city. Her media experience includes working as an assistant media librarian, television commercial copywriter, news reporter for the Courier Express and editor and co-founder of Buffalo After Dark Magazine.

Al-Nisa began her career at the Challenger as a volunteer in 1979. Today she is the owner, editor and publisher. The Challenger Community News is the largest African American newspaper in the State of New York outside New York City. Founded by former Deputy Speaker Assemblyman Arthur O. Eve, Calvin Kimbrough and others in 1963 the Challenger has been continuously published for over 50 years.

Al-Nisa is the recipient of over 150 awards and citations both locally and nationally as a result of her work at the Challenger. In 1980, she was among several Black publishers from around the country honored at the United Nations for fair and objective reporting by the UN's Black American-Arab Friendship Committee. Locally, she was named one of the Citizens of the year by the Buffalo News Magazine.

The subject of numerous feature stories in area publications, Al-Nisa has appeared extensively on local radio and television. Her national exposure includes appearance on Tony Brown's Journal and being featured in Essence Magazine. She has traveled widely throughout the United States, West Africa, Haiti and other parts of the Caribbean.

She is the mother of two daughters, Leah and Shola, who are currently assisting her in ensuring The Challenger's future in the 21st century and beyond; and the grand mother of two - Sanaa and Damir Elijah - her greatest joy.