Interviewed by Mariam Nawid
Mr. Issiac Dickens is married to Mrs. Verma D. Eldridge and is the father of Antoinette, (5th Grade), Kyron, (3rd Grade), and Benjamin, (1st Grade). He was born in a small farm community called Two Egg, in Florida. He spent summers with his grandmother, Iola, and lived in Port St. Joe, Florida.
Mr. Dickens attended George Washington High School where he was considered an outstanding student. He also worked very hard. "When I was with my grandmother during the summer, I primed tobacco, picked cotton, shook peanuts, picked peas, pulled corn, picked watermelons and took care of farm animals to help around my grandmother's farm to earn money for school clothes."
Mr. Dickens related to us his experience of having moved from a predominantly black school, where every teacher knew and supported him, to a much bigger, predominantly white one. "At William Boone I spent two years in a state of cultural shock."
Mr. Dickens remembers well the days of segregation. "Black people ate in black restaurants, which were few and far between. Water fountains and bathrooms bore signs like 'For whites only.' In theaters, black people sat in the back or in the balcony."
He personally suffered indignities when dealing with white people while trying to get a liquor license for his uncle Allen's Cafe, and seeing his mother say `Yes sir,' to a much younger white man who was selling her insurance. In the end, it turned out to be a rip off. Mr. Dickens works as a juvenile detention officer, where he counsels, listens to, attempts to teach, and provides for the care, safety, and security of youth between the ages of eight through seventeen. He tells us how different his youth years were compared to the life of most children today. "I feel that families were more cohesive when I was growing up, and children had more opportunities to make mistakes and to learn about self control on their own. It was easy to be alone sometimes and listen to your own thoughts. There was open space, and a person could take off running and run until he got tired while bothering no one. People seemed to be more willing to help each other."