New book cast loving spotlight on the ‘Sistas’

Courtesy of Striving Publishing

Strive Publishing empowers youth through the enlightening tool of literacy, most recently with “Celebrating the Sistas,” an anthology/workbook showcasing Twin Cities role models for girls.

While these are 10 women, it’s worth noting, young males would do well to heed the examples. The subject said Strive founder Mary Taris, is “women of color making a difference in the fields of education, politics, business, health, and social services. This biography series is building a written legacy for the children while celebrating the strength, determination, care, success, power, and beauty of each sista.

“Every child should have the opportunity to learn about the outstanding contributions of these sistas,” Taris said.

The concept originated with Taris and entrepreneur Kevin Johnson, founder of the Twin Cities Steppers Association. “After attending the 2018 Celebrating the Sistas Annual Awards Dinner,” she recalled, “I kept thinking about all the amazing women who were honored. As an educator, I wanted to find a way to share the inspirational biographies of all the Black women who are working hard for the community.

“So, I asked Kevin Johnson, the founder of Celebrating the Sistas, if he would be interested in partnering on a children’s book series. Kevin was interested and we worked together to get the book project going.”

She added, “This partnership creates a pathway for documenting our legacy while inspiring the next generation.”

For example, there’s Sharon Smith-Akinsanya, CEO at Rae Mackenzie Group CEO, the award-winning marketing firm advising corporations on profitably relating to communities of color. Clients have included Minnesota Timberwolves/Lynx, U.S. Bank, Target and Verizon Wireless. Accordingly, she is the author of “Colorfull: Competitive Strategies to Attract and Retain Top Talent of Color” (Morgan James Publishing).

Neda Renee Kellogg co-founded Project DIVA International with Keeya Allen of The Love Initiative Group. Project DIVA, a grassroots community-based initiative, mentors young Black women and girls part and parcel of which is responding to the pressures in urban environments.

As Kellogg told the MSR in a previous article, “They receive guidance and support in respecting themselves, parents, their school situations. How do you handle frustration when you get upset at school [or] when you’re the oldest at home and have to help Mom with everything? Our coaches provide spaces for these girls to grow into young women by encouraging them to self-discover without limits.”

Toni Newborn, J.D. is the director of Human Resources and Chief Equity Officer at the City of Saint Paul, formerly of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights. Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said in a press statement, “Toni Newborn has helped embed a lens of equity across every city department, and in how we serve our community. [She] will further expand this critical work as we continue moving forward together through these uncertain times.”

Also among the contributors are Rep. Rena Moran, Dr. Artika Tyner, Commissioner Toni Carter, and Tracey Williams-Dillard, MSR owner and publisher.

“Celebrating the Sistas,” said In Black Ink executive director Rekhet Si-Asar, “holds up a mirror to reflect the hard work, dedication, grace, beauty, focus, generosity, compassion, creativity…of those many women of African descent who shape and enrich our lives locally and globally. We are fighting for the lives, hearts, and souls of our young Black girls. This book highlights their immense potential.”

“Celebrating the Sistas Book 1 in the Series of 21st Century Heroines Every Child Should Know,” edited by Taris, illustrated by Kprecia Ambers of Kp Inspires, and created to honor African American girls through illustration and design, marks a welcome addition to personal libraries and coffee tables.

In Taris’ words, “With this biography series, we are building a written legacy for the children. Moreover, each contributor’s story will teach, inspire, and empower children to reach for their dreams.”

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