Biography: Rebecca Lucille (Dickerson) King, affectionately known as The Songbird, Mama King, Ms. Rebekah and The Storyteller, was dearly loved by many for her kindness, straight talk, positive spirit, and infectious smile.
Rebecca was born August 11, 1941 in New York City to the late Claiborne Wadsworth and Lou Spencer (Mayo) Dickerson. She departed her life on Tuesday, November 26, 2019 at 4:00pm.
Her education in New York City included The Modern School under the leadership of Mrs. Mildred Johnson and George Washington High School. While attending George Washington High School, she was a Glee Club member, classically trained in singing, and was awarded the honor to sing in the All City Choir as First Soprano.
In 1962, Rebecca married Rudolph L. King Sr., and they had two children. Rebecca initially was a homemaker and then ventured out to further her education at BMCC where she earned her associate degree, which started her long career in the mental health field as a Psychiatric ward attendant, YAI (Young Adult Institute) resident worker, and YAI resident manager. After leaving YAI, she worked for many years, at Colony South Brooklyn Houses ranging in various capacities- Caseworker, Teacher, Job Developer and Director. Upon leaving the mental health field, in the early 90’s she began working in multiple capacities which included the music industry events where she showed off her cooking skills by introducing her famous “Mac and Cheese” where celebrities, Hip Hop and R&B party goers alike affectionately called her “Mama King” and would line up at various venues to get a taste. Shortly after, she was hired at Canaan Baptist Church of Christ for At Your Service Catering, where she helped to provide affordable, and exquisite banquet services here in Harlem. Everyone learned quickly that when they worked under Rebecca, you had to get it right or she would let you know, family or not, that service had to be on point. Her position evolved into an administrative position where she was able to train and mentor youth and young adults for the workforce.
After she retired, Rebecca began to tell her stories professionally and joined NABS (National Association of Black Storytellers) where she met new people, got an agent and travelled to conferences nationwide to enhance her craft. She even brought her storytelling to Canaan, where she encouraged people both in the church and outside the church to tell their stories both biblically based and personal. They now have a Canaan Café as an event for storytelling. Truth be told she was a natural born storyteller and her skillset was adored by many ranging from the young people that attended Freedom School, where she started her birthday celebration annually for the past 10+ years to Seniors. Even while at Mt. Sinai Hospital, she captivated one of the nurse’s attention with a story and song about her summer visits to her grandmother and grandfather in Tarboro, N.C. She weaved in the song Summertime from Porgy and Bess as she recalled her annual summer visits that ended with homemade peach ice cream made by her grandmother on her birthday. The nurse had tears in her eyes because she felt the passion and joy that was
expressed through the story. So much so, the nurse almost forgot why she was there to see Rebecca.
Rebecca always had a relationship with God, but it wasn’t until around March of 1981 when she took her first step in surrendering to God by joining “AA”, she celebrated being sober from then until her last breath, which was over 35 years. A few years later, she joined Canaan Baptist Church of Christ, where she surrendered again and her walk with God really began to blossom. Throughout the years, her faith got stronger and she began to talk more about God’s love to everyone, whether you wanted to hear about him or not. She allowed God to use her voice wherever it was needed at Canaan, in the community choir with MLK, and around the world, under the direction of Gene Cooper. Her melodious voice can still be heard on a CD with The Three Sopranos. Once she stopped singing due to a vocal injury, she fell in love with Storytelling, which brought her relationship with God to yet another level. Rebecca loved God and showed it by her active service in her church. She was involved in several ministries - Caretakers, Birthday Fellowship, Scholarship Commission, Five Choirs, Missionaries, Dance the Word, and Canaan Café.
With all that Rebecca did outside of her home, she still made time for family. She had a personal relationship with each and every family member. She loved us all with words of kindness and even with “tough love” when needed. It was okay for her to get on you, but not anyone else. She lived a life that wasn’t always centered around God and she made a decision to put God first and that’s exactly what she wanted and still wants for us all in order to have a better life. She “adopted” others and treated them like they were her children and or close family members. She was a shoulder to lean on and a person to call for advice even if you knew she may not always be on your side. Rebecca showed up to just about every event that her children and grandchildren were involved in. She helped physically and emotionally when we needed her. She was our rock! Rebecca modeled for us what a Christian person is to be like. She was a true example of how God can use you, no matter what!
She leaves to mourn two children Rudolph Lawrence King, Jr. and Rechelle Lauraine King, her daughter-in-law, Sabrina King; five grandchildren, Mzuri, Nia, David II, Elijah and Amyah; one sister Patricia Powell (Milton); four brothers Thomas (Cheryl), Gerald, Claiborne (Tania), and Stanley J. Dickerson; five nieces and nephews; longtime cherished friends Frances Mann and Elsie Mitchell, and a host of other relatives and dear friends.