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Pink, Green, and ZORA!

AKA Shield Today is “Founder’s Day” for:  Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Incorporated.  

On January 15, 1908, a group of 20 collegiate women at Howard University convened to establish a service organization that has since grown into a global standard with the motto: “Service to all mankind.”

On May 2, 1987, I pledged the sorority at Temple University (Delta Mu Chapter).

Along with eight other women who have since become my “Sorors,” – a greek word for “Sister – we entered a world of “pink and green everything” and became part of a community of women who serve on an array of different levels and for many reasons as well.

I’ve since grown older and come to realize that sisterhood is a concept that extends far beyond my sorority affiliation. I have two sisters by birth whom I love and over one million sorority sisters world-wide – all of whom I’ll clearly never meet. I’ll always be an AKA, but at this juncture in life, I am constantly examining relationships with everyone: sorority sisters, women, men and relatives. EVERYONE.

The intersect and discovery process has been amazing!

There are women who are my friends and by chance – they just so happen to also be sorority members – and there are others who pledged a different organization or no sorority at all:  they, too, are some of my dearest friends. (I pinky swear).purpose of aka

Two pastel colors are not what inspire me to be a kind and decent humanitarian; however, a shield, sisterhood, and sacred  rituals did indeed make me a member of a prestigious organization whose community contributions for over a century are simply phenomenal. I will eternally acknowledge and respect Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

More important, I am ever conscious of the organization’s purpose as it aligns with my own as a woman whose life is one of literary pursuit with whimsy and words that that I seek to intermingle.

It’s a beautiful thing when you can pursue your passion with “folks” who embrace the same. Having said that, I wanted to celebrate this “106th Founders Day” with a true representation of where my life is on this very day and how THAT intersects with being a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

I also wanted to avoid the somewhat “gimmicky” online “clip art” representations available that may be cute in  “pink and green” design, but at the end of the day, the principles of our organization are represented by a single shield which is both the first and last image I used in this post. So, all my social media and Facebook people know that I have been pushing the  Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts & Humanities HARD.

My indulgence has almost been as though I was perhaps the sole birth-right of the renowned  “Novelist, Folklorist, and Anthropologist.”

ZORA Portrait 2I am not;      

 Zora Neale Hurston died childless.

 I am Ethel’s daughter, but covet undeniable” Zora Zeal.”                

  Hurston is also not a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, but ironically, some of the world’s most prolific African-American poets, actresses, writers, (and just fierce women) are Alpha Kappa Alpha women who long-life support ZORA!  ZORA Festival Flag

                                                                                        They will continue that legacy this year with the 25th Anniversary Celebration the 25th Anniversary Celebration January 25 – February 2, 2014.

Click link for festival information =  www.zorafestival.org

SILVER ANNIVERSARY (2014) 25 YEAR POSTER I’ve attended and provided news coverage for the previous, three consecutive years and this year was sub-contracted by the public relations company promoting ZORA! Festival to assist with editorial. So, on this Founder’s Day, I would be remiss to dismiss one commemoration over the other. Consistent with the creative mind I am, I’ve found a way to merge the best of both worlds on this historic day to honor black women of artistic esteem who also support ZORA! and just happen to be my sorors as well ~



On Wednesday, January 29, 2014, Soror Sonia Sanchez will host the                                    ” ‘Round ‘Bout Midnight Series: Spoken Word” event at the Zora Festival.  Celebrating the arts and humanities is the foremost inclusion of the multi-day,                  multi-disciplinary event.  2008 ZORA Festival Banner

Sanchez has been a long term contributor of time and talent to ZORA! Festival over the years as noted in the 2008 banner to the left. She will additionally be “honored” at the Saturday, February 1st Gala.

She is deserving, worthy, and due.

spoken word poster

More than a Soror and woman of word whom I deeply admire, Sanchez was also professor extraordinaire at my alma mater, Temple University, where I minored in African-American studies. Department of African American Studies

 If you didn’t know about the 8th floor of Gladfelter Hall and the Department of African-American Studies at Temple University, than you just weren’t “in the know.”

 It’s an honor to be able to have an opportunity to be up close and personal with her again.


Lynn Whitfield headshot

Soror Whitfield is a talent that surpasses excellence and she is most widely recognized for her Emmy Award Winning performances in “The Josephine Baker Story” and “Eve’s Bayou.”  Whitfield will bring her phenomenal talent to the Eatonville stages for ZORA! Festivals 25th Anniversary.Josphine Baker on the cover of jet

“An Evening with Zora,” featuring Lynn Whitfield and Avery Brooks

Artistic Director Elizabeth Van Dyke who received an AUDELCO award for her portrayal of Zora Neale Hurston,   has developed the evening’s format.
They will star in dramatic readings entitled this will take place at the Auditorium at the UCF Rosen Center of Hospitality Management on Friday, January 31 at 8:00 p.m.                                                  
  lynn whitfield in orangeI am so proud to be associated in both a sisterhood and “love for Zora” capacity with Whitfield whom I met at ZORA! Festival 2011.   She is an absolutely charming and friendly woman void of any pretense.                                                                                                                
The latter is a stigma inaccurately applied to all women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.  However,  women of stature who have reached acclaim in their chosen fields – and even for those who haven’t – stigmas are meant to be defied and a woman’s personality is what precedes her, not her sorority affiliation!
                                                                                                                                                    QUOTES_Josephine Baker
Ntosake Shange
Ntosake Shange has been an integral part of my poetic and literary life since my initial discovery of her choreopoem, “For Colored Girls Who have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Ain’t Enough.”  One word:                 HUGE!
I also met Soror Ntozake Shange at the 2011 ZORA! Festival where she was given a special honor in the company of other notable women. The most astounding thing that became of our meeting was an opportunity to interview her at her Ritz Carlton Hotel.
For Colored Girls Book Cover
I captured the photo image below as she sat across from me (Respectfully, I sat across from her) in her hotel room…where I patiently… watched her…eat.  I was watching my literary idol eat. LOL  ( I recall this being one of my life’s most nerve-wrecking days).
Health challenges temporarily affected her life, (we have that in common), but her wisdom and words were poignant, as was her generous spirit.  It’s my understanding she is up and at ’em and doing better than best.
I am grateful for these moments God has granted me. The referenced “intersect”  is divine as we just happen to be sorors, in the same place, at the same time, at the ZORA! Festival. (Go GOD figure!)
Maya Angelou Quote
Dr. Maya Angelou will also be an honoree at the Saturday Gala; however, she will not be traveling to Eatonville, Florida for the 25th Anniversar for her unheralded cultural and literary legacy, quotes, and artistic contributions.
Maya Angelou 1
 We are all mere women who have valiantly walked into our purpose or stumbled across our destiny either willingly or by way of a wayward life journey.  In either case – we arrive – together as sisters or divided by our own, individual negligible spirits.
Together, we make an impact that creates legacies that ext end beyond a single century like Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated or a celebration like ZORA! Festival reaching the quarter century make of Silver.
I am proud to be in the company of such great literary and artistic legends, to call them “sisters of admiration” and “vessels of virtue.”
Also, on some level, we each embody the cultural sisterhood demonstrated by ZORA! who didn’t have to be a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated to have arms of support wrapped around her arts and humanities legacy.  Supporting one another is what ALL women should do whether we are at the forefront of blazed trails or fighting to avoid being the backdrop of male leadership.  Sisterly support:  it’s just what we do.
My personal goal is to always be deemed a woman who is consistent with Maya’s quote: intelligent, courageous, loving, and absolutely one who teaches by being.”
The aforementioned combined with a sisterly heart and a grateful spirit can make every woman PHENOMENAL!Phenomenal-woman-Maya-Angelou

aka shield in black

Penny Dickerson 2014

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