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John Baker’s portrait of Al-Nisa Banks for The Freedom Wall, 2017

John Baker’s portrait of Al-Nisa Banks for The Freedom Wall, 2017. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Al-Nisa Banks

American, born 1947

Al-Nisa Banks is the owner, editor, and publisher of The Challenger, one of the largest African American newspapers in New York state. Since starting as a volunteer at the Buffalo-based paper in 1979, Banks has worked tirelessly to give the local African American community a platform to address and discuss the issues that impact them and the city of Buffalo.

For Banks, the mission of The Challenger is to present the human impact of regional and national issues of politics, the economy, and social justice. As editor, she develops stories that highlight many of the positive or behind-the-scenes events and partnerships integral to Buffalo’s African American community. Both personally and professionally, Banks is fearlessly and fiercely critical of racist circumstances and systems of injustice. "I don't hate people, I hate conditions," she has said. Her unwavering pursuit of self-empowerment and equality has consistently earned her credibility with her supporters and critics alike, and to this day, she remains committed to giving a voice to those who deserve to be heard.

Last updated 2019
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