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An Attitude of Gratitude

Meet the DIVA: Reverend Dierdre’ R. Parker

Meet Reverend Dierdre’ R. Parker, editor of Entertainment & The Arts at The Star of Zion. A masterful wordsmith and award-winning spoken word artist, Dierdre’—also known as “Didi”—began reading the dictionary as a kid. Today, Didi continues to build upon her rich legacy as a poet, an actor, an IACC-certified life coach, an author of ten books, and an editor of one collection of poetry, A Collection of SISTAHS: Sisters Inspiring Souls to Attain Higher Success, and an ordained elder in The A.M.E. Zion Church. An embodiment of resilience, Didi’s journey to becoming D.I.V.A. (Delivered Inspired Victorious Anointed) has been embroidered with many valleys and achievements.

Born in Southport, NC, Didi was the fifth-born of seven children. Although her mouth often got her into trouble, Didi’s gift of tongue landed her first public speaking gig at age three: an Easter speech. Even the dictionary generated a new world for little Didi, experiencing childhood sexual abuse and, on her seventeenth birthday, undergoing an abortion by her parents’ decision, led Didi through a dark journey that included cycles of running away. After being date raped in college, Didi ran away again and joined the army. After serving on active duty for four years, she returned home to a collateral divorce after eighteen years of marriage.

Ever victorious, Didi returned to college, enrolling at UNC Wilmington, for which, among many achievements, she participated in community theater, including playing Sofia in The Color Purple, serving as a radio host of Morning Coffee with Diva on Coast 97.3, and serving as Creative Coordinator over UNCW’s premier all-female spoken word group, SISTAHS (Sisters Inspiring Souls to Attain Higher Success). It was at UNCW where Didi and I first met, having both been students and spoken word artists performing on campus at poetry slam contests. I invited Didi to join SISTAHS, which was a group that I had founded in the fall of 2012 out of my newfound love for performance poetry.

Apart from becoming the Creative Coordinator of SISTAHS, Didi became the mother of SISTAHS, always dropping gems with us during our meetings and even during our intimate Sunday brunch gatherings, which is where I ate shrimp and grits for the first time—a delicious entrée that Didi cooked. Didi was always transparent with us, often sharing her life story, from the pain to the purpose. She always pointed to God as her source of resilience and her benchmark for living an honest, truthful life. Then an ordained minister, Didi often addressed her frustration with church members who showed up on Sundays in a façade rather than being real about their struggles: an issue that still circulates in conversations today among both church members who genuinely choose to live a life pleasing to God, Jesus Christ, and members who departed from the church because of a lack of transparency or accountability from the pulpit.

Didi’s consistent transparency about her own strengths and weaknesses is what I always admired about her. Her constant encouragement and support of me is another admirable quality that I cherish. I remember shortly before graduation from UNCW in 2014, I was pursuing a career that was very different from the artistic life that I had curated—serendipitously by God’s hand—during my four years at UNCW. Didi told me, “All those things that you’ve done will one day come together.” Years after graduation, I told Didi that she was right, as only within the last four years have I returned to sharing my writing and poetry with the community again.

Didi graduated from UNCW at age 51 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She later wrote and produced her own one-woman show—Becoming Diva: Unpacking the Junk in the Trunk—which highlighted her victories over life’s valleys. Continuing to inspire others with her anointing, Didi earned her Master of Divinity from Hood Theological Seminary at age 57 and is in the process of obtaining her Doctorate in Ministry from HTS.

Today, Didi also runs Diva2de Ministries, a faith-based non-profit for women who have experienced similar adversity to hers. Diva2de empowers women to reclaim their lives with continual support, practical resources, and a compassionate network. Some of those resources offered include basic household goods, groceries, and self-help seminars, such as resume writing, computer skills, and financial planning.

Regardless of each woman’s present challenges, Diva2de Ministries’ mission is “fostering resilience, promoting healing, and nurturing a sisterhood where every woman knows there is hope, help, and healing, enabling them to thrive.” Most importantly, Diva2de strives to promote healing and foster sisterhood among the women who participate in the ministry.

When asked what her greatest accomplishment is, Didi says, “surviving”: “A lot of women who go through some of what I've been through end up addicted, imprisoned, or sometimes with severe mental health issues. It is nothing more than the grace of God that I am alive and sane. This is the reason I started Diva2de Ministries. I want to help women who find themselves at the intersection of giving up or keeping on going with the resources to make it to the next intersection. Other women helped me. I want to be that for other women.”

You can find more information about Rev. Dierdre’ R. Parker at www.diva2de.com.
Reverend Dierdre’ R. Parker, The A.M.E. Zion Church, Diva2de Ministries


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