In March 2022, Big Picture Initiative awarded Dunlap High School Senior Rasheedah Na’Allah the first “Biggie” Award. This award recognizes a Giving Voice contributor who demonstrates an expanded vision of community involvement outside of the pages of this publication. Not only does Ms. Na’Allah qualify for the award, but she was the inspiration behind it!

On Wednesday, February 9, 2022, a forum titled “Despite The Best Intentions: How Schools Contribute to Racial Inequality” was held at Bradley University. The event offered a critical look at the school system and a discussion that offered solutions. The organizer? It was none other than Ms. Na’Allah. The keynote speaker for the evening was Dr. Amanda Lewis, LAS Distinguished Professor and Director of Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Panelists included Ms. Na’Allah, Dr. Juan Rios Vega, Associate Professor of Educational Studies at Bradley University, and Chama St Louis, Incubator Lead Organizer at NBWC and Entrepreneur.

The Giving Voice team was not only blown away by this incredible (and very well attended event), but Ms. Na’Allah’s continued display of leadership. In April 2021, she produced a report titled “Racial Disparities and Inequities in the Education System,” the result of a survey of both current and past Dunlap students. She serves on the Peoria City/County Racial Justice and Equity Joint Commission as a steering committee member, is an Illinois Global Scholar, volunteers regularly for organizations like Peoria Midwest Food Bank, is the Dunlap High School Yearbook Senior Editor and Contributor… and the list literally goes on and on.

The Giving Voice team at Big Picture wanted to find a way to honor Ms. Na’Allah’s accomplishments, and to those students who will invariably be inspired by her to make their community a better more equitable place to live, thrive, and enjoy life.

On March 4, 2022, Big Picture Executive Director Dr. Mae Gilliland Wright and Big Picture Co-Founders Doug and Eileen Leunig presented Ms. Na’Allah with the award and a $250 check in front of her peers and teachers. Student illustrator Terri Silva created the portrait seen at the beginning of this article and on the cover.

The award was created by local iron artist Jam Rohr of Black Dog Metal Arts. The cash award is made possible through a grant from the Gilmore Foundation. The next award due date is April 30, 2022. Find more information and nominate someone today.

About Terri Silva

Terri Silva is a 20-year-old sophomore at Bradley University pursuing a major in Television Arts with a minor in Interdisciplinary Film Studies. For Silva, art is a hobby in addition to a potential career, and she takes it very seriously. Silva thrives when she tells stories in all forms: drawings, films, writings, and more. Silva thinks of herself as a creative mind that wants to share ideas with others, while also taking in what they have to offer as well.