2009 Hall of Fame Inductee
Mayisha was born Elaine Hook in Torrance, California on Oct 22, 1952, to the proud parents Louis C. Hook (Coweta, Oklahoma) and Anna Maude Harris (Rosedale, Louisiana). She was raised in the government housing projects in a partially rural area of Los Angeles called Harbor City. Animals were a passion as long as her mother can remember. “Each day, I would look out the window to see what animal she was bringing home today. Elaine wasn’t afraid of animals. The sick were her favorite and would nurse them back to health.” While exploring her community as a child, Elaine found she had a special relationship with horses. This love followed her into adulthood.
Education was very important in the Hook household and Mayisha excelled academically. Adventurous and full of life, she enjoyed participating in school activities and made local news as the first Black cheerleader and homecoming princess at Narbonne High School, a predominately white school. Receiving a state academic scholarship gave her the opportunity to attend Loyola Marymount University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Education. Ms. Akbar originally planned to teach after graduation from Loyola, but the real estate boom of the 70’s abruptly changed her plans. Mayisha went on to become a prominent Real Estate Broker, working in many different areas of the real estate market including sales, management, and taxation.
While researching properties for one of her Realty clients, Mayisha happened upon a little known agricultural area of Compton, California known as Richland Farms. Given the cowboy flavor of the Richland Farms community, Mayisha’s childhood attachment to horses made it a real gem of a find for her. In particular, facing the challenges of being a recent divorcee, she became very excited about giving her three children the opportunity to have the ever so empowering experiences of living on a farm with horses and other animals.
Moving into the Richland Farms community was a whole new awakening for Mayisha and her family. As her children ventured out and made friends, they became pied pipers to the many “latch key” children encountered. Mayisha’s interaction with those new friends generated an awareness that that they were often in need of a place to go, food to eat, clothing to wear and family love. So on any given weekend, the Akbar home became a place for youth to meet, sleepover, and enjoy equestrian activities, among other fun events. It was amazing to Mayisha that night after night of sleepovers would go by and none of the parents of these new friends would ever show up. Instead of kicking the kids out, Akbar’s kids told their friends that “there’s lots of work around here and if you wanna stay and continue to ride you gotta help take care of the horses!” As the number of kids staying, working and riding grew, Mayisha found out that many of them weren’t in school, and those who were in school were not doing well. So Mayisha told them “If you want to continue to ride you’ve got to be in school and getting good grades. If there’s a problem we’ll get you tutoring.” As the number of the kids going to school grew, Mayisha realized there was a real need in the community for activities for kids, particularly boys, and that she could make a difference by giving them alternatives to the gang and drug lifestyle facing them daily in their community.
Over time, the growing numbers of youth in Mayisha’s backyard past-time, affectionately known as the Jr. Posse, resulted in the decision to formalize into the non profit organization called the “Compton Jr. Posse Youth Equestrian Program”. This program is a place where kids learn the value of hard work, team work and competition. Many wonderful opportunities are offered to youth through the program, including training and apprenticeships with international trainers including Olympic gold medalists. With Olympic hopefuls in their midst, the Compton Jr. Posse formed the first inner city high school team in Los Angeles in 2009. Mayisha Akbar has touched 1000’s of kids’ lives through her program and was responsible for many of them to go on to College, into the military and in business for themselves.
Mayisha Akbar has received numerous honors and accolades due to her work with Jr. Posse youth, including California Legislature Woman of the Year, Essence Magazine 1 of 25 Most Inspirational Women, and President Bush’s Point of Light Award. There has also been a multitude of awards and media coverage including CNN World News, Good Morning America, KNBC Unsung Heroes and many many more.
Back to the Hall of Fame