Francis Nezianya, Businessman and Former Zachary City Council member, is one of the Zachary residents featured in our Black History Makers feature in the winter 2023 issue.
Long before Francis Nezianya was in a close runoff for Zachary’s 2022 mayoral race, the Nigerian-born businessman came to Louisiana alone to get an education at Southern University and learn to support himself. His father, the breadwinner back in Nigeria for Nezianya’s mother and his eight siblings, had died suddenly a few months earlier.
“I needed to do whatever it would take to help the family,” Nezianya recalls. He rushed through his degree in accounting to graduate in three years, while reporting for work at Church’s Chicken in Baker every day at 5 p.m. and working his way up in management. His college-aged siblings gradually began to join him to get their educations, and upon graduating, Nezianya went back to Nigeria to receive legal custody of his two youngest siblings–ages 10 and 7–so he could enroll them in school in Baker.
His siblings that he helped raise earned degrees in therapy and in civil engineering and now live in Dallas, raising families of their own. Nezianya, of course, raised his own family–his oldest son graduated from Yale then earned a law degree at Northwestern in Chicago– and went on to serve the City of Zachary as a Councilman for 16 years and a franchise owner of several area Subway restaurants.
Nezianya holds the late Jesse Spears in high regard as a mentor. “Everywhere I’d go, he was involved. He got along with everyone, black and white.”