Journalist, Wordsmith, Survivor.

Penny Dickerson Freelance Journalist & Adjunct ProfessorContact: pennydickersonwrites@gmail.com

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

She earned a BA degree in Journalism from Temple University (Philadelphia, PA) and an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University (Cambridge, MA).

Passionate about words and writing,  in 2012  Penny joined her alma mater, Florida State College Jacksonville, as a Liberal Arts Professor  teaching courses in English composition and Humanities courses including Writing for Non-Fiction, Introduction to Literature, & Film and Literature.

Media contributions include: Florida Times-Union, Florida Courier, ARBUS, EBONY.com, New America Media, Mosaic Literary Journal, Philadelphia Stories, and more.  Prior employment includes English professorships at various northeast and southern colleges.  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.

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.”  Raised a “military brat,” Penny traveled extensively and attended various primary/middle schools, but ultimately graduated from the controversial named “Nathan Bedford Forrest High School “in Jacksonville, Florida which has been renamed, “Westside High School.”


Pageantry afforded her the opportunity to pursue higher education, as she won several teen pageants and was further crowned the first black Miss Florida Junior College (Miss America Preliminary) and held the title Miss Black Florida but wants to make it abundantly clear that she is not a pageant-girl snob.

Prior to winning the National Shrine Pageant, she  traveled Puerto Rico, Barbados, Grenada, Honduras, Panama, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba with the 1st Miss Florida USO Troupe and has traveled to virtually every U.S. city and points of the globe as a former TWA Flight Attendant who was known to fly the Vegas red-eye on her days off just to get free shrimp cocktails.

Penny is listed as an Outstanding Woman in American, Who’s Who In American Junior Colleges, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and is a Leadership Jacksonville Alumni. She is an American Symphony Orchestra League Management Fellowship finalist, Creative Capital Professional  Development  Workshop participant, and recently participated in the  2011 Minority Writer’s Seminar sponsored by the National Board of Editorial Writers. Continue Reading »


“A Sioux City Sojourn”




Filed under METRO 

Florida Courier contributor Penny Dickerson shares story of hope and survival to African-American students  during trip to Iowa city


America’s racial climate deserves a seasonal calm. A monumental movement of protest has swept the nation following a string of Black-male homicides that angered multitudes and simultaneously created a new platform for dialogue amongst millennials – the next generation of potential law enforcement, judicial and education leaders.

“Sistas Coming Together” gathered 29 of the 47 young women of color           enrolled in Sioux City, Iowa’s racially disparate and socio-economic challenged West High School. Principal Jacque Wyant is in the front row, third from left.

To nurture potential and advance soft skills like communication and respect, a warm and friendly conference called “Sistas Coming Together” convened in Sioux City, Iowa on Nov. 18 Hosted by the Sioux City Museum of Art, plaintive words of hope were breathed into at-risk youth.

Defying controversy
Iowa Principal Jacque Wyant and I live a distant 1,400 miles apart. Thirty years ago, we walked the same halls and marched in the same band at Jacksonville’s controversial, Nathan Bedford Forrest High School.

It took 50 years, petitions and national news for the school’s name to be changed to Westside High School, a reflection of the surrounding neighborhood demographic that has currently morphed to a predominate, African-American populous.

141212_metro01eIt took me and Wyant 10 minutes at a summer band reunion to agree to employ conciliatory efforts to address a critical racial and low socio-economic disparity affecting students at Wyant’s own West High School:



The rural Sioux City school is comprised of 1,165 students;
•51.8 percent are non-White;
•82 are African-American students;
•47 are female and 29 participated in “Sistas Coming Together.”

“My girls never get to meet or see women like you Penny,” remarked Wyant at their June gathering.

West High School students Rakara Reed and Jamilah Jones glean smiles of mutual respect at the Sioux City, Iowa conference.

Exposure to professional women of color who defy adversity, graduate from college, realize their life dreams, and further embody self-respect and acceptance of cultural identity best strikes the target of Wyant’s commentary and intent.

From South to Sioux
A 22-year education veteran of Philipino descent, Wyant is in her fourth year as head principal at West High School.

Her leadership boasts graduation rate improvement from 78 percent to 88 percent and a dropout rate decrease from 7 percent to 1.5 percent.

“Every decision I make for my school is based on the outcome and needs of my students first,” said Wyant. “This posture hinders my popularity among school staff, but my decisions are always student-centered.”

She refers to the high school’s select jewels as, “Her girls.” Many are mixed-race or biracial with non-college educated, single parents, resigned to work menial jobs in regional factories or other blue-collar facilities. The results create an intimate struggle beyond the average Black girl’s plight.

Every opportunity in the world should be accessible to the African-American Sioux City girl. To reinforce the latter, Wyant used a grant awarded in 2010 from Iowa Safe and Supportive Schools (IS3) to fund my travel across the Midwest plains.

A confident Briana Moore gives her take on “slanguage” during the communications workshop.(PHOTOS COURTESY OF PENNY DICKERSON)

“Leaving Florida’s perpetual sun for 20 degree temperatures was more than a notion,” I shared. “But I gravitate towards motivating lives and igniting passion, so it was a reasonable fair trade.”

Burying the ratchet hatchet

“Can’t we all just get along?”

It would seem a mute inquiry in a high school where only 47 of the students are young women of color. They are ordinary girls – typical in their love for fashion, music, and sharing robust laughs, yet also atypical.                             The commonalities that bind them, subsequently divide.

“Over the past eight years, relationships between the African-American girls has always been one of support,” states Wyant.  “Female students at West High cross ethnic, grade, socio-economic status and involvement barriers and my students, staff and parents will tell you that ‘cliques’ do not exist at West High.  Just walk into the lunchroom. It is clear that students “mix it up.”

Problematic for Wyant’s enrollment and student social pulse has been transfers from other large urban areas outside of Iowa which resulted in an influx of African-American students.  The “more the merrier” concept was met with unexpected territorial stress.

“At the beginning of the school year there was tension amongst our African-American girls like yelling in the hallway and disorderly conduct,” Wyant explained.  These behaviors soon bred fights.

Discord squashed
Coming from “the wrong side of the railroad tracks” is an African-American associative dilemma. Spike Lee’s iconic film “School Daze” pitted the dark-hued “Jiggaboo” against her light-skinned sorority sister, while Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple’’ portrayed main character Celie as abused with the double- indemnity of having “blue-black” skin.

Seated are Jaynaydia Dailey (11th grade) and Laila Mohmmad (ninth grade), Erykah Jones (10th grade) is in the front. Standing left to right are Tavianna Harris (11th grade), Tremia Madden (11th grade) and Aneisha Eason (10th grade).

But when real life mimics cinematic reference, serious intervention is necessary.  Young women of color at West High School engaged battles that spanned hair texture and weaves to mulatto complexions of classmates.

Wyant sought to squander the discord without haste.

“The first steps taken were to contact parents followed by a mediation between the “ring leaders,” Wyant stated. “The second time the tension(s) appeared, school administration decided to have all girls meet with outside facilitators.”

‘Respect’ conference
Namely, Flora Lee, who is past president of the local NAACP and serves as support staff for the Sioux City Community School District’s (SCCSD) Area Education Agency, and Lori Gentry, the Equity Liaison for SCCSD who additionally meets with African-American focus groups in the area.

Three separate meetings were held with conflicting students resulting in the elections to have a “respect” conference.

Five student leaders were identified to work with Wyant’s school administration along with Lee and Gentry. “Sistas Coming Together” emerged as both the initiative and name.

Dickerson’s inspiration
Wyant and I were raised as military brats — a lifestyle that afforded world travel and diversity exposure.

“Beyond band, high school was an otherwise miserable existence for me, but I knew I wanted to be a writer or journalist,” I shared with the girls. “Growing up on military bases, attending college and graduate school in Philadelphia and Boston, and a stint as a flight attendant each contributed to my positive path.’’

To amplify the bigger picture, I executed my dual role as an adjunct professor of English at Florida Community College at Jacksonville.

I used slang cards that read popular catch phrases like “hot mess,’’ “aight,’’ “crew,’’ “posse, and “badonkadonk’’ followed by discourse on the fine line between humor and derogatory name calling. Every student needs to utilize
Standard American English as a communications asset that garners social, academic, and workplace respect.

Lesson on survival
I strategically distributed chocolate play money in varied denominations to teach responsibility from philanthropy to value. The overarching lesson was: “You navigate life with what you’re given, but education is a bridge to help you acquire more.”

Moreover, pride in appearance and exuding poise characteristic of young ladies was an evocative message.

Most resonant was a raw spiel regarding my own cancer survival — a symbolic example that life’s adversity may delay goals, but limits zero possibilities for remarkable women of promise.




Florida’s “15 Teen” Disney Dreamers




Dreams come true again


 15 Florida teens in this year’s Dreamers Academy at Disney


DDA Banner Red

The seventh annual Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine was held March 6-9 at Walt Disney World Resort, but before the first high school teen arrived, mathematics were symbolic. A record 10,000 applicants wrote essays defining their dreams, but only 1 percent beat the odds to be counted among the 100 who comprised the class of 2014.  They traveled from 27 states. This year’s group included 15 Florida Dreamers.

Steve Harvey addresses the students during a commencement ceremony held for the Class of 2014.(Photos COURTESY OF DISNEY PARKS)

Walt Disney World Resort has partnered with stand-up comedian and author turned talk-show host Harvey and Essence since 2007 to offer more than 600 teens an unheralded opportunity to receive an all-expense paid trip that defies the word vacation. It is “a once-in-lifetime, innovative, outside-the-classroom, educational and mentoring program with a core mission to “inspire and fuel dreams.”

Prestigious judging panel
According to Harvey, “Disney Dreamers Academy gives hope and inspiration and exposes youth to a world of possibilities. We are excited about another opportunity to transform lives and give students an inside look at what their future can hold.”

Harvey leads a prestigious judging panel charged with narrowing the submitted essays to 100.

They include Essence Communications President Michelle Ebanks; Mikki Taylor, Essence’s Editor-at-Large; Alex O. Ellis, CEO of Simply Ellis Custom Clothier; education advocate Dr. Steve Perry; gospel legend Yolanda Adams; sports analyst Stephen A. Smith; and a host of other celebrity notables who volunteer their time and, above all, share their own dreams.

140328_metro01bDiverse group
The 15 from Florida were racially diverse, proving no teen’s dream is limited by color. Four males and 11 girls from varied parts of the peninsula meshed to form a cultural mosaic of African-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Cuban-Arabic, Whites and Hispanics. The Florida Dreamers’ stories unequivocally confirm – they are about business and seek to change the world.

Blonde-haired and blue-eyed Samantha Solberg from Longwood has a rare global connection to Kenya. The 16-year-old entrepreneur sends 50 percent of her profits from “Samantha’s Treasures” to “Girls with Vision in Africa” where the money is used for discipling, education, and wages. Further unique is the example of Pavlina Osta, whose radio show “Pavlina’s Kidz Place” airs on four Florida stations, giving airtime to a hotbed of social topics including depression, AIDS and bullying. A civic-minded 16-year-old, Osta is a former page for the Florida House and Senate.

140328_metro01cMatthew Young is a junior attending Jacksonville’s nationally acclaimed Stanton College Preparatory High School. Academically focused, he is on target to pursue law or politics.   Young is in the International Baccalaureate program, National Honor Society, National French Honor Society and National Film Honor Society.

Against all odds
Tra’Vaughn Harrington’s mother died when he was 5 years old. He doesn’t know his father.  His 27-year-old sister serves as guardian and life-support for him and four siblings.  At his core, Harrington is just an ordinary 15-year-old freshman from New Port Richey who loves football, wrestling, track and music.

His own temperament is more even than his life’s odds. His favorite class is engineering and he defies circumstance to embrace hope: “My dream is to become an engineer who builds roller coasters,” declared Harrington. “I want to own a theme park and be the reason why millions of people smile.”

Kiana Favors was born with one kidney and a whole in her heart. At age 12, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, endured radiation and chemotherapy, and survived a radical hysterectomy.  Her body will never give birth to a living dream.

“My parents are the reason for my great attitude,” explained Favors. “They taught me to not let my illness be my crutch or define me. I am worth more than that [cancer]. I am here for a reason.”  A vivacious high school senior, Favors now plays varsity basketball, runs track, and is one fighter who never looks back.

Neijia Riley is an 18-year-old Tampa-based senior with a 4.94 grade point average. She’s a socialite with discipline who is a “proud member” of the JROTC Drill Team, SGA, DECA, and Senior Class. Already a go-getter, this fall she’ll be a Florida Gator.

“I saw DDA on Facebook and noticed people who look like me, with Steve Harvey and Mickey Mouse. I decided to apply,” said Riley. With aspirations to become a world-class event planner, Riley beat remarkable odds twice. She was one of only two 2014 Dreamers selected to serve as an intern when Harvey hosts the 2014 Ford Neighborhood Awards in Atlanta Aug. 7-10.

Top: Tampa Dreamer Neijia Riley, seated left, took home “lucky mouse ears’’ and a Steve Harvey internship. Bottom: Dreamers receive a photojournalism lesson during a session hosted by Essence Magazine.(Photos COURTESY OF DISNEY PARKS)

Words to dream by
Beyond four days of motivation and celebrity mentoring, dreams were ignited by the weight of imparting words.

Dr. Steve Perry assured, “Those people who see themselves as victims in their lives become victims all their lives,” while Harvey impressed, “The more people you help become successful the more successful you become.”

Sought after speaker Jonathan Sprinkles offered the reflective, “Never adjust your expectations downward to compensate for your peer’s expectations.

But perhaps the most poignant message was extended by Disney Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracey D. Powell: “…Everyone leaves this program inspired to live their best life.”

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Bishop Rudolph W. McKissick, Sr. “A 45 year Legacy”

It was a tremendous blessing to contribute my creative energy in the form of a poem to Bishop Rudolph McKissick, Sr.’s 45th Anniversary Celebration. Comforting was my friend Vincent Brown’s comment that he has never known me to write a poem that rhymes. That would be correct, but I knew I had to appeal to a cross-section of generations and ages who could understand and appreciate the familiar nuances of our Bishop who has been at the pulpit’s helm for Bethel Baptist Institutional Church for 45 years. Now that’s what I call serious, ministerial service.

Oddly, I have had few personal encounters with Bishop Sr., but he’s one of those souls whose spirit you can capture from his morning messages, his presence, his willingness to be so accessible to his flock, and his genuine zeal for the Lord and the people of God. He’s humble, consistent, real, often humorous, and incredibly compassionate. (I hope the poem conveyed that!)

Last year he visited me in the Hospital and I was “moaning and groaning” about having been there for 11 days. His poignant perspective to me was, “But these were YOUR eleven days.”  One month prior to his anniversary special I was in the hospital again for 27 days and his prior counsel gave me perspective (not that I want to do any of it again.)

He is a Pastor’s Pastor and a Bishop’s Bishop. While I actually do write in rhyme (slant rhyme, off rhyme, internal rhyme), I leave “end rhyme” to the one and only master of the craft and that was Robert Frost. It is actually very difficult to do without sounding “trite and/or elementary.” Sometimes there are occasions where our gifts find their dutiful place and purpose and in the writing of this poem, I must say, metaphorical genius was neither required nor necessary.

Incidentally, I didn’t read the poem the evening of the Florida Theater spectacular tribute. I was unsure if I’d even be able to attend so another church member rehearsed diligently and delivered eloquently and beautifully. Kudos! I don’t know her name, but thank you for representing my work and uplifting Bishop.

It was a dignified and professionally produced theatrical production and more than adequately served as an integral part of a weekend long celebration for a man whose life and legacy have, and will continue to make a difference.

Much love and respect to you Bishop, Sr. and thank you for being such a blessing to me and countless others.

Penny Dickerson 2011


The whimsy and woes of a writer’s life.

This blog is featured in HBCU Lifestyles


The decision to write full-time is an aggressive endeavor despite talent or drive. Writing is a multi-billion dollar industry that is news-necessary, the cutting-edge of entertainment, and the pivotal intersect of social survival: Tweet or die.

African Americans have infiltrated the literary scene with riveting stories nestled inside book jackets donning sultry bodies and titles that speak to deceptive love triangles or the replicated “single woman finds groove”  tradition of Terri McMillan’s iconic classic.

Books are safe. If you have a literary agent you’re golden, or you can join the legions of novice entrepreneurs who self-publish and personally finance their publications and subsequent marketing/promotional efforts. My first poetry collection was published sans a book deal. It’s a hustle folks. A real-life, word grind (but I love it).

 The 21st century reality is that no writer can artistically or financially survive as a one-trick pony. Being diverse is key, so I am inclusively an independent journalist,  published poet/author, blogger, proposal and grant writer, and have augmented all of the aforementioned by serving as a collegiate instructor of English.

The Job Market Is Looking for Good Writers


As a journalist, I enjoy longstanding relationships with editors, but abhor the blind pitch. Rejection is inevitable. The best story ideas are lost to budget restraints and pay can be laughable or impressive. Creativity to identify new gigs is a must, as is travel, workshops, grants,  fellowship pursuit, and humility. Writer’s write and that means daily, so if I’m not blogging, I’m nabbing notes for mymemoir, or chasing a deadline.   

One of the most important self-marketing tools I’ve adapted is developing my own website. I’m no techie, but if I can manage a WordPress site, anyone can. To utilize the best of both worlds, I purchased a separate domain and host and “mapped” my WordPress site (total investment: $24.00). The latter eliminated the need for a webmaster, and I now have a portal for potential editors to peruse previously published work.  A writer without a website is like a doctor without a stethoscope: the heart needs to be heard and a writer’s site is their artistic hub (or heart). pennydickersonwrites.com

I’ve experienced great rewards including high profile interviews, front-page features, and community covers, but I want more and currently have my sights on global reporting.  Too often, African American writers tend to “stay in our lane.” Well, the discourse community for writer’s is vast and profitable. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and take risks. Challenge yourself. If you shoot an arrow in someone else’s backyard, you just might hit a tree. The entire world is our lane (and backyard), and too often there are not more of us in a specific writing arena because we are hesitant to venture.

I attended a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) for one semester, but ultimately transferred to Temple University where I earned a bachelor of arts degree in Journalism.  The southern school of mention is Florida A & M University (FAMU) who along with its northern, HBCU counterpart – Howard University- are both known for their excellent journalism programs. Either earn my high recommendation, but I encourage any prospective writer to closely examine their long-term goals prior to selecting a school.

Can “talent in the raw” professionally excel without formal study? Of course. Many have and others will, but beyond my undergraduate degree, I additionally earned a M.F.A. in Creative Writing (15 years later) and the exposure, mentoring, and formal indulgence of my craft have proved immeasurable complements to my existing talent.  Even with two degrees and experience, employment trends have shifted to mixed-media, back-pack journalism, and social media expertise; being talented in verse is a mere base-level expectation.

Learning is continuous and imperative to maintaining competitive edge, so this year I applied and was selected to participate in a Creative Capital Professional Development Workshop sponsored by the National Endowment of the Arts and also the Minority Writer’s Editorial Seminar in conjunction with the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute. Both have tremendously helped my writing career and taught me to manage time and the value of networking.

Have I mentioned that this writing life is an insatiable hustle, a word-grind, a 24-hour on-line hunt for work? It’s all of that and more, but it is also my passion and never shall I abandon it. Why? Because I love it!

Penny Dickerson 2011

HBCU Alert: Florida A & M University and Howard University offer “Media Sales Institutes.”


4 Reasons FreeLancers Should Try Ebyline


BCCA provides technical assistance to 40 communications programs within the 105 HBCUs in the US.


Develop A business plan for your media start-up


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Florida Actress Lands Role on Tyler Perry’s New Show

Angelas Metro B


Florida actress is holding her own on OWN

Angela Robinson, a Jacksonville native and former Miss FAMU, has a major role in Tyler Perry’s ‘The Haves and the Have Nots’


Just in case you haven’t heard, the lovely pillar of grace donning haute couture fashions in Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and the Have Nots” on OWN is none other than Jacksonville native Angela Robinson.

Cast photograph

Angela Robinson, wearing gold dress, portrays Veronica Harrington in Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and the Have Nots.’’ She is shown with other cast members in the new series on OWN.

Cast as the wealthy Veronica Harrington in Oprah Winfrey Network’s (OWN), first original scripted drama series, the former Miss Florida A&M University and musical theater actress is now employed by Tyler Perry Studios based in Atlanta.

Robinson, who also starred on Broadway as Shug Avery in “The Color Purple,’’ now is an integral part of a historical collaboration between media mogul Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry.Tyler Perry Logo with Oprah

More than 1.77 million television viewers embraced the show’s debut on May 29, giving OWN its highest rated premiere ever.

Landing the big role
The rise to stardom was not a quantum leap for Robinson who learned early that the combine of diligence and discipline are necessary to success.

Since “The Color Purple,” she has enjoyed continuous success as a seasoned performer with range.

“I played the Acid Queen in the Who’s “Tommy” [Berkshires] and a dream role – The Witch in Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” [Atlanta], Robinson shared.

A stroke of luck placed a Tyler Perry Studios casting director in the Atlanta audience who was so impressed, she extended Robinson an audition for “Meet the Browns.” Angela didn’t get the part.

Was she disappointed?  Extremely. Landing a part on a Tyler Perry show had been a nurtured goal. One year later, she received a call to submit a taped audition for the role of Veronica.

Serendipity leads to success
A dream deferred for Robinson is better deemed a blessing delayed. She approached the opportunity as simply, “another audition.” Husband Scott Whitehurst helped record the scene, forwarded it to the studios, and they went about life as usual. Robinson has been married to Whitehurst, one of New York’s top acting coaches, for about 17 years.

Rarely tethered to her cell phone, Robinson missed a succession of calls from her agent when the good news arrived: “Tyler Perry Studios wants to fly you to Atlanta tomorrow to audition for Mr. Perry.”

She joined 15 other hopefuls from New York and Los Angeles for a three-hour wait that included insanity pacing and wrecked nerves.

“Auditions are usually filled with anxiety, but I kept telling myself to have fun because I loved this character so much,” stated Robinson.  “After my scene, they asked me to read with Gavin Houston who plays my son on the show. It was magic. The next day we each received an offer, and this great blessing unfolded in just four days.”

The Tyler Perry pace
tyler-perry-directingOn the set, he is called Mr. Perry. It’s southern respect, but not a mandate. “Tyler Perry is one of the hardest-working directors I’ve ever worked with,” offered Robinson. “He is focused, serious, and he is fair. He began each day of shooting with prayer.”

Perry is credited as writer, producer, and director for the show. Widely known for his cross-dressing comedic character Madea, his “arrive early/stay late” work ethic resulted in 16 episodes being filmed in six weeks.

“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” Robinson confessed.

“Memorizing lines has never been my strong suit, but my stage experience prepared me for television. It took a minute to learn technical adjustments and was scary at first, but I viewed it as acting boot camp and enjoyed the experience.”

Her mother and biggest fan joined her in Atlanta for the tapings.

Among the perks of being in a Perry production was the “state of the art” gym and well-balanced meals. The latter is a must for the former Miss America pageant circuit winner who ascribes to a strict diet and fitness regime.

“Pinch moments” for Robinson included attending a private party at Perry’s home following the premiere of his movie “Temptation.”

A-list celebrities whom she has admired for years were present. Additionally, attending red carpet events render her giddy.

A hometown hurrah
Angela's HeadshotThe city of Jacksonville is proud. Floridians everywhere – from her fellow FAMU alums to parishioners at First Baptist Church of Oakland – everyone was claiming Robinson as their own before Winfrey’s OWN catapulted her to primetime fame.

Following each Tuesday airing, social media sites are abuzz and novice predictions emerge regarding the plot’s next twist and turn. Cast members also tweet live during the show.
Robinson’s Twitter handle is angelarobschild. Viewers also can tweet about the show at #havesandhavenots, #tylerperry, #owntv and #mynameisveronica.

An alumnae from William M. Raines High School, she maintains a sincere, classmate allegiance, but has established roots in a new home in Englewood, N.J. where she is an arts minister for Metro Community Church – a thriving ministry with an 80 percent Korean descent membership along with a West Indies/Jamaican representation.

“For many years my husband and I commuted to Brooklyn for church. We made a conscious effort to find a church in our community when we relocated to Englewood,” Robinson explained. “We previously selected ministries based on what it gave to us. This time we chose based on what we could offer and were prepared to serve in a deeper way.”

Having her say
“The Haves and The Have Not’s’’ seeks to parallel the lifestyles of a rich, southern family and their domestic help and families who are poor.

“This is one of the only shows on television with a diverse cast that looks like America: Black, White, Latino, straight, gay, rich and poor,” claimed Robinson.

“It’s important to support this show, because it might inspire other producers to follow Mr. Perry’s lead.”

Robinson pulled from her own southern roots to define Veronica. “A strong, Black woman who is unapologetic for her success is a joy to play,” said Robinson. “I looked at women like Oprah and First Lady Michelle Obama complemented with the acting skills of Phylicia Rashad and Diahann Carroll.”Angela as Veronica

For Robinson, Father’s Day was bittersweet. Her dad, Willie C. Robinson, didn’t live to witness this achievement, but would have been proud.

“I miss my dad so much,” reflected Robinson, just days after Father’s Day. “He would advise me to make a plan and ask, ‘What do you want to get out of this experience?’ Dad never stayed in an emotional place long; he always brought me back to reality and was one of my greatest teachers.”

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State Representative Reggie Fullwood: Focused on Community

Click link below to read full website copy


Thank you to State Representative Reggie Fullwood for offering his perspective, insights, and political experiences during two interviews: the first was February 2011 and final notes compiled in a July 2012 culminated in the following profile published July 12, 2012 in the Florida Courier.

Rarely is there a lapse in media coverage when a political representative experiences a professional or ethical misstep. The Florida Courier invites readers an opportunity to enjoy an “aerial view” of Fullwood who offers constituents a chance to see the man behind the title.

This article is consistent with the Penny Dickerson Write’s brand: “Positive!

Special thanks to Fullwood’s Legislative Aide Jackie Boyd and Legislative Intern Earl Jones for their assistance.


State Representative Reggie Fullwood is pictured left with political colleague State Representative Mia Jones at the 9/11 “Remembrance Ceremony.”


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Twenty years ago, almost at this same early morning hour, I was in day two of what would be a four day, extended, evil battle of the belly called, “labor.” My first contractions started on a Thursday morning and I likened it to being sucker punched by Ali with no intentions of a Ropa-Dope recovery.

Contractions are knee-benders. Full-body, mid-waist hugs that hunch you over and make you scream for Jesus in the least orgasmic manner. This was Thursday and I was rushed to the hospital for my “main event.” Alas, I had only dilated one centimeter and was sent back home to endure the same pissy, pain pattern. Day two mocked day one: rush, Hospital, but now two centimeters of progress and I am again sent home. Saturday arrives and I’ve grown horns and fangs; I’m foaming at the mouth and demand that I be relieved of this living that lurked inside me like a small mound of bones and muscle who was always kicking and never seemed to sleep.

My Obstetrician directs: “Go home and drink a cooler, because now you’re only three centimeters. This time, I refuse to leave. It’s a stand-off of patient vs. medical staff that I would win, but only after they gave me an enema and told me to “walk the hall.” Let me be more graphic: this is likened to being shot 50 times at point blank range by a pawned pistol and then told to “relax and breathe…they’re just gun shots. You’ll live.”

Active labor worthy of hospitalization is four centimeters, and I was one measurement away from an epidural and a bed; the only two necessities needed or necessary at the time. After hours of gripping walls and toilet sprints, I’d won round one and took a needle to the lumbar and chilled with my walk man. I realize this is archaic and primitive to the IPOD generation, but my Spyro Gyra and Yellow Jacket cassettes and martian helmet earphones kept me sane and singing the soon to be Mommy song.

It’s Sunday morning and my happy inhabitant is rolling in circles like a self-contained ball of energy. I remember just gazing as my stomach followed miniature limbs poke and roll and kick and jerk and send a firm message: “Get ready world. I’m ’bout to make my entrance and shake things up!” By noon, I’m still four centimeters, so we C-sectioned and slit-sawed my baby girl out and into the world. My first thoughts were, “Oh my God, I’ve birthed ET!” She was long-limbed, big brown-eyed and sticky and gooey and screaming a song with lyrics I wouldn’t learn or understand until 20 years later, until now, until tonight.

It seems as though time has taken a quantum leap from her first crawl, to the pull of a bloody first tooth, the first horrid day she left home to attend that germ-infested, primary-colored environment called Kindergarten, to the first ballet lesson that let me know why God blessed her long and with line and with grace. She was lithe. We’ve light year traveled from LaVilla School of Performing Arts to William Meredith Performing Arts in Philadelphia to teaching her how to “cat call” her own taxi to 22nd street for modern dance at Koresh. Pennsylvania Ballet is behind us and North Carolina School of the Arts waited in the wings until it was time to tame and tone her body into an instrument of pirouette precision and lyrical facility to take choreography in one ear and spit it out on a lighted stage as though she understood instruction while still fetal. Oh how she’s grown, endured braces, and blossomed like my “Rosebud at the Barre” to become one lucky guy’s prom date to her collegiate choice scholarship recipient. What a quick journey it’s been. Who decided ten years would be a decade and two decades would equal twenty and twenty would be the year my brown-eyed beauty would choose to give me a copy of the lyrics I couldn’t decipher at birth? Who?

This year she screamed again as though her day of birth had returned and an immediate need existed to remind me that she gave fair warning that her presence was meant to “Shake things up.” Clearly, I’d forgotten. Somewhere between college transfers, a new boyfriend who quickly became the old boyfriend who was indignantly replaced by the now boyfriend who I’ve deemed “a relentless daughter thief.” I hate boyfriends. Make no mistake about it Moms: they all attend a back-alley class on how to take a mother’s baby and mold her into an altered creature whose original features now mimic a self-indulgent theme called, “You only need me.”


I rebuke you in the name of labor pains you penis distraction who stole my baby just so she could be your “Boo!”

Yes: these are the years. These are the years of irrational reason and remarkable growth. These are the years that the labor pains return, but now I have been forced to listen and learn and lay low while watching the same limbs that kicked me into a crazed stupor, rise up and walk to her own rhythm and sing her own self-titled song. It’s a love song that gets lost in refrains we parents call mistakes. It’s a song that daughter’s scream much like me in my youth. I’d shut the door closed and do the Robot as Michael Jackson’s “Dancing Machine” blared. 21st century daughters don’t do closed doors. They boldly bust hinges and wildly walk free screaming a song called, “Me.” Again I say, “It’s a love song with the refrain: ” I love me, I love me, I love me, I love me.

In my era, Helen Reddy birthed an anthem I embraced that began, “I am woman hear me roar…”
20 years ago I birthed a baby who has birthed her own anthem that begins, “I am woman watch me soar.”

My beautiful baby bird hasn’t skirted around her scream, but much to my chagrin has nurtured her voice for hopefully all the right reasons and at the right time to sing her own R. Kelly “I Believe I Can Fly.”
I have been silenced and she insists that I remain mute until she beckons the need for my voice.

On a good morning, I can be found walking my San Marco neighborhood and gazing at the river’s wide divide that separates a city by multiple bridges. I, too, feel separated by a bridge over troubled water, and resist a song I don’t want to receive national acclaim.

I am held at bay by my beautiful, brown-eyed, baby bird who has grown eagle’s wings and decided to soar high, but not too far and seemingly without fear. I am reminded of the Austin Power’s character (Fat Bastard) who tells Mini-Me, “Get in my belly.” That’s how I feel. I want my Mini-Me back, but she has now become her own Mini-She.

I must let go, and let God guide her as she soars with wings of an eagle and trust that she always remembers that God is her only “real” guy and guide.

Gosh! It all happened so fast. I feel like I didn’t even have time to remind her to take a sweater.

Happy Birthday Kelsey Nicole Dickerson. May your milestone of 20 be all that you’ve dreamed, and may you allow yourself to slowly continue to become your own soul-singing Eagle who knows she can always return to her origin’s nest.

I Love You More Than Sushi and the Sky.


Penny Dickerson 2011






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