Zakiya came to advocacy, organizing, and policy work as a parent pushing back on the pre-school to prison pipeline. Prior to joining Dignity in Schools Campaign, she co-founded Racial Justice NOW! (RJN!) in Dayton, Ohio and served as Executive Director for 5 years. During her time at RJN! Zakiya organized Black parents to fight back against schools’ overly harsh discipline policies and practices that are ineffective, unfair and detrimental. Through this advocacy, organizing, and policy work-parents were able to win some significant victories; including a moratorium on out of schools suspensions for PK students and the creation of the ‘office of males of color,’ in the Dayton Public Schools. This work was the impetus in the new law passed in 2018 strictly limiting PK-3rd-grade suspensions and expulsions for public and charter schools in the State of Ohio.
Zakiya has been featured in media publications such as the Dayton Daily News, The Real News Network, Ohio Education Association (OEA) and presented training’s on race, school climate and culture at the OEA Summer Academy in 2015 & 2016. Additionally, Zakiya was featured in an article on preschool expulsions from the Center for American Progress.
Zakiya has received the Emerging Leader Award from the Center for Community Change in 2017 and the Community Advocacy Award from Advocates for Basic Legal Equalityand Legal Aid of Western Ohio in 2016. Zakiya also received the Drum Major for Justice Award from the Dayton (OH) Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 2015.
Finally, Zakiya has the first chapter in the upcoming book: ‘Lift Us Up! Don’t Push Us Out! Voices from the Frontlines of the Educational Justice Movement’ released on Beacon Press in August 2018.