A Black Queen Who Inspired This Former Princess

Determination and drive are in my DNA.

I am not “built” to back down from what I believe. And I have the past and present Black Queens in my life to thank for it. Especially my beloved mom.

My parents are an interracial couple who married in 1970. A climate then was nowhere near as accepting of that as we are now. No cheerios commercials, many schools still largely segregated, hippie love abounding.  Despite all of their hardships and adversity they somehow raised three smart, popular, funny, and caring daughters.

  • Deirdre “Deedee” Bianca Cummings – Author, Lawyer, Therapist & Entrepreneur
  • Amanda Ella Compton – Attorney & Law Professor
  • Louisa Lucia Pecchioni – One of the very few female vascular surgeons in the country

My mother was a Mast. My father a Pecchioni. Two very strong and respected families in their communities. Pecchioni [pronounced Peck-ee-oh-nee] is Italian and means “keeper of the bee”. The Pecchionis were beekeepers in Northern Italy. A severe drought forced them to migrate South. They eventually settled in Sicily and continued to raise bees. Bees to this day have been significant symbols in our family.

My mother, Andrea Mast Pecchioni, was an innovator, leader, and very passionate about the Arts. Because of this love, she was instrumental in founding the first alternative theatre in KY during a time when the Arts were not very well supported. Kentucky Cooperative Theatre 1982 was created in 1982 and this was exceptionally remarkable because my mother was a woman of color. And at the time, there was not a lot of interest or respect for either.

Andrea Mast Pecchioni

Despite the naysayers, she followed her dream and did something that everyone said was crazy; she created a beautiful place for the Arts to come to life. It wasn’t about money, it was about following her heart. For more than 15 years, despite the naysayers, she helped the dreams of many playwrights and actors come to life on stage.

My mother was also strong, loving, and no stranger to speaking her mind when she felt things were not as they should be or injustice had been done. That precious gift is one of the many she gave to me.

THANK YOU, Mom. I miss you.

Social justice can take on many forms.

Not everyone is comfortable with calling their Senators, posting on social media, or calling out racism when they see it. Getting diverse books into the hands of children is an important and necessary way to make a difference. Series like Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess prove that Black and Brown characters can be the stars in stories about hope and dreams.
Learn more about the Kayla Kickstarter and make a pledge HERE.
There are SO many ways you can support this Kickstarter campaign. No matter the pledge amount, YOU are making an impact on young readers everywhere.

Please share this Kickstarter on social media and with friends and family 💜

About Deedee Cummings

As a therapist, attorney, author, and CEO of Make A Way Media, Deedee Cummings has a passion for making the world a better place. All 15 of Cummings’ diverse picture, poetry, and workbooks for kids reflect her professional knowledge and love of life. Colorful and vibrant, her children’s books are not only fun for kids and adults to read, they also work to teach coping skills, reinforce the universal message of love, encourage mindfulness, and facilitate inclusion for all. Cummings has spent more than two decades working within the family therapy and support field and much of her writing shares her experiences of working with kids in therapeutic foster care. As a result, her catalogs of published books for kids are filled with positive, hopeful messages. Using therapeutic techniques in her stories to teach coping skills, Cummings also strives to lessen the stigma that some people feel when it comes to receiving mental health assistance.
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