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Freelance Journalist

penny_dickerson_caro_article-small_26761Contact: pennydickersonwrites@gmail.com

Penny Dickerson is an independent journalist with a passion for cool people, extraordinary places, and good sushi.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Temple University (Philadelphia, PA) and an Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Lesley University (Cambridge, MA).

 

Temple UniversityLesley LogoPassionate about words and writing, Penny has augmented her freelance writing life by working as an adjunct English professor at  Florida State College Jacksonville, as a teaching courses in English composition and Humanities courses including Writing for Non-Fiction, Introduction to Literature, & Film and Literature.

Media contributions include: Orlando Arts Magazine, Jacksonville Arts & Business Magazine (ARBUS), EBONY.com, New America Media, Mosaic Literary Magazine, Florida Times-Union, Florida Courier, Philadelphia Stories, and others..

As a fundraiser, Penny served as Assistant Area Director of Development for the United Negro College Fund’s $1 million Orlando team and is  former Marketing Director for urban shopping center Gateway Towne Center – the gig she insists taught her everything she knows about resilience. Her prior fashion background includes serving as store and department Manager for Edison Brothers 5-7-9 and Steinmart, respectively, in addition to an Assistant Men’s Buyer.fortune cookie

Born Merdis Lavonda Robinson in El Paso, Texas, she was given the nickname Penny by her mother, but friends close to the helm refer to her simply as “P.”  Continue Reading »

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Penny Dickerson Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

John Jay LogoThe Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation

florida-courier-logo

http://flcourier.com/2015/01/22/florida-courier-writer-gets-guggenheim-fellowship

Florida Courier writer gets Guggenheim Fellowship

Filed under FLORIDA, FRONT PAGE, LEAD STORIES, LOCAL NEWS, NEWS 

FROM STAFF REPORTS

Florida Courier writer Penny Dickerson was selected as one of 20 U.S. journalists from print, online and broadcast outlets to receive an H.F. Guggenheim reporting fellowship organized by the New York City-based John Jay Center on Media, Crime and Justice housed at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York.

Penny Dickerson Freelance Journalist & Adjunct ProfessorOver the next year, the Florida Courier will publish a series of stories titled, “Race, Justice, Community: Can We All Get Along?” written by Dickerson, a veteran journalist based in Jacksonville.

Dickerson is the third Florida Courier writer to receive a journalism fellowship. Senior Editor Jenise Griffin Morgan was awarded a 2013-2014 Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism. Publisher Charles W. Cherry II is a 2009 Guggenheim Fellow.

Diverse experience
Dickerson, a longtime contributor to the Florida Courier, has been a freelance reporter since 2001, advancing from local to more regional and national affiliates. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Temple University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Lesley University.

Her literary approach to news produces engaging narratives across a broad spectrum. However, underrepresented populations are the cornerstone of her pursuits. Continue Reading »

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Bethune-Cookman University to Host Educational Conference

Daytona Times

B-CU to host Educational Justice Conference

Filed under BETHUNE-COOKMAN, DAYTONA BEACH, LEAD STORIES, NEWS 

Three-day collaboration in Orlando will include governmental agencies, community organizations school districts and families

BY PENNY DICKERSON
DAYTONA TIMES

Bethune-Cookman University is serving as a millennium model to advance awareness of critical issues affecting minority student education. The university will host its First Annual Educational Justice Conference July 12-14 at Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa in Orlando.

The three-day conference is themed “Connecting with the Diverse and Underrepresented Youth of Today” and seeks to galvanize K-12 educational leaders and teachers through inspiring discourse and presentations that empower leadership skills.

Invited speakers will emphasize under-resourced schools, teacher preparedness, mislabeling of students, insensitivity and family/community support. Registrants will receive extensive learning opportunities toward best practices in standards-based education and innovation models.

Free for some teachers
Bethune-Cookman University is partnering with The Ford Fund and Volusia County Schools. The Ford Fund and Volusia County Schools are supporting approximately 15 teachers. The university believes this is such an important discussion that B-CU is sponsoring 50 Title I teachers/administrators statewide.Title 1

“As a way to operationalize our commitment to work with Florida school districts, this conference will showcase best practices in district classrooms, cutting edge discussions with local, state and nationally known speakers,” said Dr. Willis Walter, vice president of Community Affairs/K-16 Initiatives Dean, College of Education for Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU).

“All conference participants will receive a written compilation of information shared at the conference.

This document will also be available to school districts. Due to the university’s dedication to quality instruction for all, qualifying teachers receive free registration and room accommodations,’’ he added.

Better armed
Upon leaving the conference, participants will be better armed to understand, serve and advocate for an underserved and underrepresented population of students.

Included are minorities, English language learners, students with exceptionalities, economically disadvantaged students and those who struggle with at-home challenges.

“Reaching underrepresented students is critical to both improving overall academic performance as a district and assisting students to find a career path after graduation or postsecondary education,” offered Kelly L. Amy, coordinator of Volusia County Schools Career and Technical Education Department. “This conference will focus on more concrete ways to reach students, all students, and that’s very exciting.”

Still unequal
Disparity in education remains an age-old problem as minority students continue to perform in school at a slower pace than their majority counterparts and lag behind in both test score and graduation rates. The reasoning stems from a plethora of broad factors.

According to a January report in U.S. News and World Report, more than 60 years after Brown vs. Board of Education, school systems in the United States are still separate but unequal. By 2022, the number of Hispanic students in public elementary and secondary schools is expected to grow 33 percent from the 2011 numbers.Education

The number of multi-racial students is expected to grow 44 percent. Black students are more likely to be held back despite mounting research that holding back children doesn’t benefit them socially or academically and makes them more likely to drop out later on.”

“It’s time to take action,” declared Walter. “If we don’t begin to truly examine the core of the problems in our educational system, we will lose these children. We as a nation can’t continue to take these risks and lose these precious resources. We have to find ways to reach all students and place them on the track to fulfill their potential.”

Community collaboration
The First Annual Educational Justice Conference is a monumental collaboration between B-CU and local/regional stakeholders within the school districts, governmental agencies, community organizations and families.

The Florida Department of Education will be well represented by Hershel Lyons, newly appointed Florida K-12 Public School Chancellor for the State Department of Education along with area administrators and superintendents from the following counties: Duval, Miami-Dade Flagler, Seminole and Gadsden. Tom Russell, superintendent of Volusia County Schools, also will participate.

“With persistent social inequities and increasingly diverse classrooms, we must work together in our communities to close the growing educational opportunity gap,” shared Dr. Rajni Shankar-Brown, associate professor and director of Graduate Education Programs and the Jessie Ball DuPont Chair of Social Justice Education at Stetson University.

“The First Annual Educational Justice Conference hosted by B-CU holds tremendous promise. We need more spaces in our community for critical dialogue about pressing social justice issues in our schools,” Shankar-Brown noted.

Education administrators and researchers will be joined by judicial/law enforcement officials and political stakeholders, including Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry and Commissioner Paula Reed. Retired Volusia Judge Hubert Grimes also will participate.

Ford Foundation out front
B-CU has been a longtime partner of the Volusia Career Connection Cadre.

Walter serves as the current chair of the Cadre and made both a conscience and forward-thinking decision to include the Ford Fund: Next Generation Learning as a leading stakeholder in the annual conference.Ford Foundation

Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL) mobilizes educators, employers and community leaders to prepare a new generation of young people who will graduate from high school ready for college, career, and life – prepared to compete successfully in the 21st-century economy.

Ford NGL conference presenters will include Ronda Alexander from Detroit and Rick Delano from Southhampton, N.Y. Alexander will be discussing the positive student outcomes of using Problem Based Case Learning (PBCL) in career academies; Delano will be sharing information regarding millennials as high school and college students and as current and future employees.

“Volusia County Schools through the Career Connection Cadre was one of Ford Next Generation Learning’s first designated communities in the United States,” stated Thomas N. Besaw, a Ford consultant. “Volusia has nationally known career academies and has provided assistance to other communities around the country in the development and implementation of academies in high schools.”

Stronger workforce
One conference stakeholder who sees the long-term dividends that Volusia County will reap from the conference is Jerry Mayes, economic development manager of Deltona.

“As the economic development official for Volusia County’s largest city, with a workforce exceeding 40,000, development of the workforce is always a critical issue,” stated Mayes. “Today’s businesses look not only for the workforce numbers but also closely examine at the skills, the education and the training of the workforce. This entails the high school graduations of and the secondary education from institutions of higher learning.”

The U.S. News and World Report states that more than one-third of Whites held a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2013 and 19 percent of Blacks did, according to the Census Bureau. But even if the educational landscape was equal, there would likely still be problems.

A recent study found the unemployment rate for Black college graduates was much higher than the rate for White graduates. Studies on labor market discrimination have shown that even when Black and White candidates have the same qualifications, the Black candidate is less likely to be called back for an interview.

Mayes adds, “We either invest in educational justice or we produce an unskilled workforce that is low in wages and high in unemployment, which negatively affects all our communities. We must accept the importance that an education can offer. Bethune-Cookman University has embraced this ideal through educational justice and the conference that promotes this ideal.”

B-CU expects to draw hundreds of teachers and educators from around the state to the conference.
“We are extremely excited about the Educational Justice Conference,” shared Dr. Louis Dunbar, assistant professor for the College of Education of B-CU.

“Our president – Dr. Edison O. Jackson – is clear regarding our commitment to exercise effective efforts as we partner with the public school system.”

Interested parties can find more details and information at http://www.cookman.edu/ejconf.

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Pastor Reflects on Charleston Tragedy

Daytona Times

                                                                                                                                          A.M.E. pastor reflects on Charleston tragedy

Filed under DAYTONA BEACH, LEAD STORIES, NEWS 

Allen Chapel’s Mugala wants to see ongoing dialogue on race

BY PENNY DICKERSON
DAYTONA TIMES

The Rev. Nathan Mugala had just driven to his Daytona Beach home from Jacksonville when he turned on his television and heard the tragic news that stunned the nation. A lone, White gunman had opened fire during a Bible study at the historical Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.

The Rev. Nathan Mugala, pastor of Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church in Daytona Beach, speaks to the congregation on Sunday, June 21.(Photos by DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM)

All nine congregants in attendance were shot to death – all were Black and ranged in ages from 26 to 87, including 41-year-old Rev. Clementa Pinkney, a fellow A.M.E. pastor and state senator.

Hours earlier, Mugala, the senior pastor of Daytona Beach’s Allen Chapel A.M.E. was attending an African Methodist Episcopal Lay Conference where he listened intently to an encouraging keynote address delivered by Anthony Scott, whose brother, Walter, was the unarmed Black male shot five times in his back on April 4 by Michael Slager, a White, North Charleston policeman following a routine traffic stop that went awry.

Interacted with Pinkney
For Mugala, the irony was surreal.

“This is a tragedy for all, but the death of Rev. Pinkney is a major loss to the A.M.E. Church. Nobody within the 7th Episcopal District (which encompasses the entire state of South Carolina) will be able to fill his place,” shared Mugala.

150625_dt_front01b“I met him at some of our A.M.E. meetings and he was a very good brother called into the ministry at age 13 and by 18 was ordained in the A.M.E. Church. He was a very sound biblical preacher with great leadership skills. It was a joy and a delight to interact and to share with him. He had a bright future.”

Prayer vigil
After learning of the Charleston tragedy, Mugala acted with haste and planned a prayer vigil last Thursday night in his own historic church, which was founded in 1910 and has about 500 members.

Mugala said 130 people – Black and White – poured into Allen Chapel in a show of unity that required fewer than six hours to plan.

“The response was remarkable,” stated Mugala. “One of the things that really blew my mind on  Thursday is that we had White people come in and just joined with us in prayer. I mean it was a  powerful moment.”

The latter serves as a vote of confidence for a country racially divided and torn apart by a series of homicide related incidents involving Black men and White assailants.  It has been reported that Dylann Roof killed his victims after telling friends he wanted to spark “a race war.”

150625_dt_front01d‘Righteously angry’

The African-American church
has served as a community pillar of protest and peace for centuries. From Daytona to Charleston and beyond. It holds a sacred stature as a place of worship with historical roots. Emanuel being the oldest black congregation south of Baltimore.

Denmark Vesey is one of the founders who planned a slave revolt in 1822, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also visited during the 1960 civil rights movement.

“When I saw what happened on the news, I was righteously angry with the murder of nine  innocent lives in Bible study in the house of God,” explained Mugala. “But then after the anger you have to get to that place where you learn how to forgive the person that did the killing.”

A magistrate set Roof’s bail for a weapons charge at $1 million for the nine murders. During his first court appearance, the professed White supremist appeared on a videoconference and several of the victims surviving family members were allowed to speak, and amidst controversy, many offered forgiveness.

People join hands during a public prayer service in the Marion Square park for the nine killed at the nearby “Mother” Emanuel A.M.E. Church on June 15 in Charleston, S.C.(PHOTOS BY CURTIS COMPTON/ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION/TNS)

“I just wanted everybody to know, to you, I forgive you,” said the daughter of Ethel Lee Lance, one of the shooting victims, who spoke first. “You took something very precious away from me. I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you.”

Mugala skirted both debate and judgement to offer: “To be honest, forgiveness is a process as some people can easily forgive because their faith and where are in their relationship with God.”

Exposed to ‘wrong stuff’
The details that have emerged following the massacre depict a killer whose life was wrought with hatred. Roof demonstrated allegiance to White supremacy with pride. Widely circulated images appeared of him wearing a jacket that extolled the flag of apartheid-era South Africa. He also has been seen photographed draped in the Confederate flag while seated on a car boasting a license plate bearing the same.

According to news reports, Roof entered the basement of Emanuel with a specific request to meet the pastor before being asked to participate in regular scheduled Bible study. After sitting amongst members for an hour, he abruptly pulled a handgun from a fanny pack and opened fire.

When his victims pleaded with him to stop, Roof is said to have told them: “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. You have to go.”

“The first thing that needs to happen from this experience is that he can turn around and give his life to the Lord,” stated Mugala. “My thinking is that the young man has been exposed to some wrong stuff and some wrong people have actually misled him because he doesn’t have a clear understanding of most of the [racial] things that he was doing or most of the things that he was getting into.”

While Roof likely will be sentenced to a life in prison or death, Mugala has faith that he can be free with a life committed to Jesus Christ. “I believe that the judicial system will have to determine the just punishment for what he has done,” said Mugala. “Whatever due process decides, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be fair.”

Better days ahead
In the aftermath of the Charleston massacre, President Barack Obama offered one of his most  “candid” and poignant messages to date on racism in America during an interview for the  podcast “WTF with Marc Maron” released on Monday. The president garnered attention by  asserting the  “n-word,” which some still deem offensive.

“Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public,” Obama said in the interview. “That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.”

Mugala shares the president’s sentiments, but offers hope for better days ahead.

The pastor, who is in his eighth year as pastor of Allen Chapel, is a native of Zambia, the former Northern Republic of Rhodesia, a region once strife with war and racial segregation in South Africa. It has since become a democratic and independent country now known as the Republic of Zimbawbe.

“Out of this bad situation, some good things are going to come. One of those good things is the removal of the Confederate flag from the statehouse and there will be moments where we can begin to have conversations on race relations and begin to talk to one another better,” he added.

“We don’t need to just be talking about it when something happens. It needs to be an ongoing dialogue, between Black churches and Whites churches, between everyone.’’

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ENZIAN Theatre & Florida Film Festival 2015

Florida-Film-

If by chance you have not caught wind of or visited first hand one of Florida’s finest establishments, allow me to introduce you. “The Enzian Theatre,” indulges adults via cinematic cool, an on-site-upscale “Eden Bar” and gourmet food that makes popcorn seem soooooo yesterday, read my feature on the 30th Anniversary of ENZIAN and the 2015 Florida Film Festival just published in the March/April 2015 issue of Orlando Arts Magazine.

 Click link to read Penny Dickerson’s feature.

OAM M-A 15 Feature-FFF

Continue Reading »

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Bishop Vaughn McLaughlin: “Agent of Change”

florida-courier-logo

Filed under BUSINESS, FLORIDA, METRO, RELIGION 

2013-Bishop__in_Gray_Suit

Bishop Vaughn McLaughlin of The Potter’s House International Ministries in Jacksonville continues to serve parishioners and patrons through the church’s thriving mall and academy.

BY PENNY DICKERSON

SPECIAL TO THE COURIER

Bishop Vaughn McLaughlin keeps it real. He is the founder and senior pastor of The Potter’s House International Ministries and approaches evangelism with a Bible-based, down-to-earth approach.

A people-person who welcomes smart phones in the pulpit to capture baptismal moments, he is an ad-hoc comic with a servant’s heart. Moreover, he is an agent of change focused on economic empowerment – a multimillion-dollar community epicenter is his testament.

Preaching since 26
The Jacksonville-based church is an evangelistic powerhouse and manifestation of McLaughlin’s spiritual vision. An athletic scholar turned college dropout, he has since earned both a master’s and doctorate degree in theology from North Florida Theological Seminary.

He continued his studies at Case Western Reserve University as a Bishop-elect by Donald Hilliard, chief presiding prelate of the Covenant Ecumenical Fellowship and Cathedral Assemblies. Following successful completion from the Joint College of Bishops, he was consecrated into the office of Bishop on March 6, 1999.

At the age of 25, he felt empty. He said God called him to preach at age 26, so he surrendered his life to Christ and has exemplified obedience since.

“God saved me with a glass of Jack Daniels in one hand, and I was smoking a joint held in the other,” confessed McLaughlin during a recent Sunday morning service.

McLaughlin believed the same God who saved an alcoholic, cocaine-snorting sinner like him, could also transform the lives of thousands. Continue Reading »

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Angela Robinson “Jacksonville’s OWN Star!”

Arbus NovDec 2013 FKudos to Angela Robinson for serving as a master-example of how a girl with a dream can become a woman boasting stardom.  She is a Jacksonville-native and graduate of William M. Raines High School who has journeyed a route to be admired and an apt lesson for all who dare to dream and are confronted with the “fear of failure.” Angela looking beautiful

What knows Angela Robinson of failure? Nothing. Disappointments? Yes, but she has persevered and shares with readers how they, too, can do the same.

Click the Link below to read: Angela Robinson, “Jacksonville’s OWN Star!”

http://www.mydigitalpublication.com/publication/?i=186755&p=52

Beyond her natural beauty is an admirable narrative that takes readers from the halls of her high school years to the Broadway stage.  Now, she’s a leading television actress on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network in Tyler Perry’s first scripted drama, “The Haves and The Have Nots.”

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock and were not among the 2 million+ viewers from season one who tuned in, Robinson portrays the affluent “Veronica” and will emerge in season two with an “Ice Queen” persona. Hash Tag –  #twodarnhot. Continue Reading »

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Ron Davis: Father and Foot Soldier for Justice

florida courier

http://issuu.com/cfcgllc/docs/floridacourier_06192015/3?e=4739009/13605054

 FROM FATHER TO FOOT SOLDIER

Filed under FRONT PAGE, NATIONAL, NEWS 

Since the murder of his youngest son, Ron Davis has become a national advocate for justice.

BY PENNY DICKERSON
FLORIDA COURIER

Father’s Day celebrations are tough for Ron Davis. The June holiday reserved for Hallmark cards and the gifting of new ties has remained solemn since the Nov. 23, 2012 death of his 17-year-old son, Jordan.

Jordan Davis endures a clothing inspection from his dad, Ron.

Davis said he will spend Father’s Day clutching the final letter Jordan wrote. In it, Jordan declared his dad his “hero.”

The student at Samuel Wolfson High School in Jacksonville was killed when Michael Dunn, a 45-year-old White male, sprayed a round of bullets into the parked SUV at a Jacksonville gas station where Davis and three friends were listening to rap music.

Dunn approached the teens about the music’s volume and a 3½-minute encounter ensued and ended with Davis being shot to death. The controversy and two criminal trials that followed inflamed public outrage and loosened an already fragile grip on race relations and criminal justice mistrust in America.

But for the elder Davis, the outrage and loss was personal.

Loved music
The same son who rode “shotgun” with his dad on countless occasions and snapped fingers to old-school artists like Smokey Robinson, the Four Tops and the Delphonics, died tragically while listening to a rap lyric.

“Jordan loved music and was so well-rounded in almost every genre,” Davis told the Florida Courier.

“Music was his life and he loved the bass on the Brothers Johnson’s ‘Strawberry Letter 23.’ Some songs now just get to me, like Mariah Carey’s ‘Hero.’ If you want to see Ron Davis drop crocodile tears, play that song.”

Keeping busy
These days, Davis starts each day managing tasks to mute his pain. Some are monotonous. But all are necessary, like responding to emails, text messages and managing the R.I.P. Jordan Davis Facebook account, which has over 210,000 followers.

150619_front01b“It takes about 15 to 20 seconds each morning for me to realize I’m not going to hear Jordan’s voice downstairs. I miss not hearing him prepare to go school,” Davis lamented. “I used to peek at the clock to make sure he’s not late or knock on his door to give him a jolt.

“You don’t realize just those little things you miss when you wake up. It pains me with a strange sensation, but I put my feet on the floor and realize I just have to keep busy.”

On national stage
His newfound life is fast-paced. It has included President Obama extending a White House invitation for the launch of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, and joining parents of other victims at John Jay College of Criminal Justice for panel discussions on justifiable homicide. He also traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to appear before the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination at a United Nations conference.

Memories of Jordan always travel with him.

“What a smile, what a smile!” marveled Davis of his spirited boy with the big grin. “He had the whitest teeth and this guy could light up a room. He used to do this little shuffle dance where he looked like a chef cooking with a frying pan. He was so funny. I loved when he did that dance.”

The father and son also were great friends. Beyond beach outings, they dueled while playing video games – his son’s favorite pastime.

“He played Xbox with his friends, but PlayStation with me. His favorite game was ‘Risk’,” Davis recalled. “It is an E-rated, world domination game with a military theme. He had his soldiers, I had mine and we went at it ‘til the morning hours trying to conquer the world.  It’s a wonderful, nonviolent game for kids to learn how to maneuver troops.”

Career choice
The game’s irony speaks to Jordan’s career interest. Despite a love for music, he sought to follow in a first cousin’s footsteps and become a Marine.

“I didn’t have a problem with Jordan choosing a military career. Both my parents were World War II veterans,” said Davis. “My mother was a nurse who endured being called ‘nigger’ in order to save soldiers who didn’t want to be touched. My father delivered fuel to tanks on the front lines. Imagine having to knock someone out with a syringe and then when they woke up telling them a White nurse saved their life after they called you a nigger!”

A Queens, New York native, Davis opted out of government service, turning down an offer to work for the FBI. He pursued a career with Delta Airlines and worked his way through the ranks before finally being transferred to Jacksonville as an irregular operations manager where he retired after 32 years of service.

“I lived right off of the Van Wyck Expressway (in New York) and as a kid, I could hear the planes landing and see people in the windows and always wondered where they were coming from,” Davis related. “I used say they probably came from Spain or Germany. I wanted to go around the world and go to different countries too. I’ve never wanted to be stuck behind a desk.”

Davis also dreamed of Jordan seeing the world.

Firm but fun dad
A hands-on father with a range of parenting skills, Davis also devoted his life to raising another son, Ron Davis, Jr. The 40-year-old recently relocated to Jacksonville from Fredericksburg, Md., along with his two sons – 14 and 9 – who affectionately refer to their grandfather as “Poppy.”

But to the late Jordan, Davis was simply the dad who prepared his favorite foods: pancakes flipped hot in an old-fashioned, cast iron skillet and a special-recipe seafood gumbo.

He is a father who is firm, yet fun. His memory of his son’s most ordinary infractions was nothing worse than missing a 10:30 p.m. curfew.

“The funny thing about both my kids is I didn’t have to whup them and I am so proud, probably in any interview, being able to say that,” shared Davis. “I am tall, have a loud, strong voice, and could just get in the face of my children and it would break ’em down so much they would just cry. I didn’t even have to touch them.”

Davis preferred innovative discipline. He once took a screwdriver and removed Jordan’s bedroom door after the teen attempted to exert his manhood by sneaking a girl in the house.

“He thought I was crazy,” Davis said with a laugh. “Jordan felt because it was his room, he could do what he wanted. But I told him, ‘Until you start paying rent or mortgage, nothing in here is yours.’ His friends all laughed and taunted him because he didn’t have a room door.”

Two trials
Davis has no problem portraying his slain son as “mouthy” and told Jordan his mouth would one day get him in trouble. He never expected death.

Davis and Jordan’s mother, Lucia “Lucy” McBath, endured two criminal trials awaiting justice in their son’s death. A jury deadlocked over a first-degree murder conviction of Michael Dunn. The judge declared a mistrial. In a second trial, Dunn was sentenced to life plus 90 years.

“I want a one-time, face-to-face with Michael Dunn. I want him to see the pain on my face and in my eyes,” Davis said. “Jordan wasn’t even worth calling 911. When he heard Jordan died, he just traveled back home for 2 ½ hours with no remorse. It was like, ‘I’ll call the authorities at some point when I get a chance, because all I did was kill a Black kid,” he added.

Jordan’s parents never wanted a death sentence for Dunn.

“Death is too quick. You don’t learn anything,” Davis explained. “But if you’re in prison for the complete rest of your life, behind steel bars and walls, what name is going to be on his mind every single day when he asks himself, ‘Why am I here?’ He’s going to think about Jordan.”3-12-minutes-ten-bullets-poster

Legacy in film
Jordan’s life and death is now cinematic history in the film, “3½ Minutes – Ten Bullets,” which received a special juried award for Social Impact at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

The documentary highlights footage of the teen’s brief life, both of the criminal trials, and includes intimate interviews. The HBO Cable Network has contractually agreed to be the sole U.S. distributor for screenings beginning in November.

Davis has agreed to give a portion of his proceeds to The Jordan Davis Foundation, which provides education and travel opportunities for youth across the nation who may otherwise never get an opportunity to leave their neighborhood.

“I miss my son every day and believe Jordan was meant to be on this earth for just 17 years. That was his assignment,” stated Davis. “When I look at this film winning a Sundance Award or my speaking before the United Nations in Geneva, I just say, ‘That’s all Jordan.’ This is all about him. He still lives like an angel in my life.”Jordan Davis

Penny Dickerson is a 2015 H.F. Guggenheim Fellow in Reporting. She is writing a series of stories that includes information gathered during a Harry Frank Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America held in February at the John Jay College of criminal justice in New York.  This year’s theme is “Race, Justice, and Community: Can We All Get Along?” Follow Penny on Twitter @pennydickersonwrites.

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Orlando Arts Magazine – “Brush Strokes” feature

Orlando Arts May June Cover

Click link to read “Re-Discovering America: The Kinsey Collection” 

OAM M-J 15 Brush Strokes-Kinsey

Bernard, Shirley, and Khalil Kinsey are three of my favorite public families (and people) next to that of President Barack and Michelle and those two stylish daughters!

The cultural exhibit, “The Kinsey Collection” is an American Wonder that Walt Disney World Resorts has extended at EPCOT Center through 2018. It’s a “must see” on you summer vacation visits to Orlando and/or Disney World!

I am proud to have viewed this extraordinaire collection numerous times and will continue to give them “ink” for as long as the opportunity exists.

Embedded below are URL links to my archived features:

Ebony_Magazine_Logo

http://www.ebony.com/entertainment-culture/a-whole-new-world-the-kinsey-collection#.VYQzmJVRE5s

florida courier

http://issuu.com/cfcgllc/docs/floridacourier_03202015/9?e=4739009/11932914

http://pennydickersonwrites.com/2015/04/19/3861/

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