10:52 PM / Wednesday November 30, 2022

2 Nov 2017

Unity Community Center Banquet showcases youth, honors SUN Publisher Catherine Hicks, Public Enemy’s Professor Griff keynotes and more

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
November 2, 2017 Category: Local Posted by:
Above photo of Professor Griff and Solé enjoy festivities at Unity Community Center Banquet. Photo credit: Monica Peters

By Monica Peters

On October 28, the Unity Community Center in Camden celebrated 34 years holding its annual awards fundraising banquet at the Clarion Hotel Philadelphia International Airport. The 6-hour event was nothing

Unity Community Center founders Robert and Wanda Dickerson honor SUN Publisher Catherine Hicks for her commitment to community and leadership

short of spectacular offering top notch performances and honoring community members and leaders including Philadelphia Sunday SUN Publisher Catherine Hicks.

Professor Griff co-founder of hip-hop group Public Enemy (who are also in the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame) served as the event’s keynote speaker.  He and his wife rapper Solé, who is also a wellness coach and martial artist, addressed the audience.

Hicks was humbled to be recognized by Unity Community Center founders Robert and Wanda Dickerson.

“I’m so humbled and so grateful for you to recognize me. What I do is a labor of love. Jerry was so passionate about this paper and we continue, every week, to publish the stories that are in our community…that are about our community,” emphasized Hicks who took over the reigns as publisher of The SUN in October 2015 when founder and publisher J. Whyatt Mondesire passed away.

Joseph Mondesire, Jerry’s son, is co-owner of the publication with Hicks.

Both Robert and Wanda Dickerson and their staff work diligently to put together the annual fundraising banquet.

“The purpose of our once-a-year annual banquet is to showcase the young people to their parents and to promoters who may be looking for performing arts programs throughout the year,” said Mrs. Dickerson of the banquet whose theme is “We Must Save the Children Now–the Children, the Future.”

SUN Publisher Catherine Hicks (blue dress), takes a pic with her daughter Nichol (left) and grand kids Anthony, Aniya and Jiselle and SUN Social Media Editor Monica Peters (right)

The evening featured performances from the center’s acclaimed performing arts groups such as the world champion UPK Pasha Generals, the internationally renowned Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble, the Universal Pasha Karate School & Demonstration Team, the UCC Music Ensemble & Brass Band; and the UCC Praise Dance Ministry who won first place at the McDonald’s Gospel Fest.

These youths gave performances that were on tier with any professional group you would see in a theater. To say the dance and martial arts performances from the various groups were amazing–would be an understatement.  In addition, once you witness the extravagant production and choreography of the center’s Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble, you will spend $100 or more to see their show.  Their performances are nothing short of stellar.

Additional performances for the evening included R&B group The Ebonys, jazz by Nasir Dickerson & the Renaissance Messengers and Alfie Pollitte and Friends. 16-year-old Yarkira Watson from Camden showcased her talents singing At Last as a tribute to late R&B icon Etta James.

The fruit of the Dickerson’s dedication to help at-risk youth in the region succeed is evident when watching the performances.

“We saw the plight of the youth in Camden, they didn’t have a place to exert their energies,” said Mrs. Dickerson.

“So my husband and I, we looked around, and said we should start a community center,” she said of the program which began in 1983 and became a non-profit organization the following year.

Honorees for the evening were: PA State Rep Vanessa Lowery Brown, PA State Rep. Joanna McClinton, Philadelphia Sunday SUN publisher Catherine Hicks, Pastor Keith Davis, Razakhan community activist, Mama Atiya Atiola and husband Baba Komi, owners of Atiya Ola’s Spirit First Foods; Imam Kenneth Nuridden, community activist Vida Neil, Maryam Munir, Principal Dana Y. King, Leo Robert Gadson and Kenneth A. Salaam aka Freedom Smitty.

“We are honoring them for their belief in working in the community, saving our young people and being positive role models for young people,” said Mrs. Dickerson.

The program deeply moved Professor Griff’s wife Solé. The couple were present for the entirety of the 6-hour event and watched all the youth performances and honoree presentations.

Solé could relate as she is a Kung Fu Black Belt and was a praise dance performer for her church as a youth.

She was in awe of the Unity Community Center and it’s legacy.

“This is truly sacred work. This is not just service, this is impact oriented. Thank you for all that you are doing for the community and all that you do to change the lives of the youth,” she said alongside Professor Griff.




  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News


Message from Catherine Hicks Philadelphia Branch NAACP President and Publisher of the SUN on passing of former PA Senator T. Milton Street

November 29, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email The Philadelphia Branch NAACP and the Philadelphia SUN family, is saddened to hear...


Jeffries wins historic bid to lead House Dems after Pelosi

November 30, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email By LISA MASCARO WASHINGTON (AP) — Emboldened House Democrats ushered in a new...

Week In Review

Biden admin to ask high court to take up student debt plan

November 24, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Light illuminates part of the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill...


Georgia runoff: Why one Senate seat is crucial for Democrats

November 24, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: This combination of photos shows, Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., speaking to...


How to shop for the right Medicare plan and avoid costly mistakes

November 24, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email BPT Inflation is putting the squeeze on all Americans, but no one is...

Color Of Money

Top financial to-dos to end the year strong and prepare for 2023

November 24, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email BPT  The holidays are a time full of good cheer, but not necessarily...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff