2ND ANNUAL DANCE OF THEIR OWN [JAIL]
SATURDAY, MARCH 16, 2013 ~ 1:00 PM-4:00 PM
Richmond City Jail
1701 Fairfield Way, Richmond, VA. 23223
This event is not open to the public.
Camp Diva hosts a special “Date with Dad” dance for a group of inmates at the Richmond City Jail and their daughters, giving them an afternoon of their own with dining, dancing, and fun!
Sponsored by Camp Diva, Richmond Family & Fatherhood Initiative,
Divine by Design Photography & Graphic Design, and BlackRVA.
Meet the fathers and daughters who danced the night away in a prison
For a teenage girl, few things are more awkward than developing a good
relationship with her father. This is something that Angela Patton knows well
after years of listening to the girls at Camp
Diva, her nonprofit dedicated to empowering African-American girls, talk
about their dads. Patton wanted to help her campers find a way to invite their
fathers into their lives and set up good lines of communication. But how?
Patton put the question to the girls themselves. And they came up with a
fascinating concept — a father-daughter dance. The dance was such a hit the
first time around that Camp Diva decided to make it an annual event. But as they
started planning the dance a year later, Patton ran into a glitch — one of her
camper’s fathers was in jail and wouldn’t be able to attend.
As Patton shares in today’s talk, filmed
at TEDxWomen, another girl in the group had a bold idea.
“She suggested, ’Why don’t we just take the dance to the jail?’” recalls Patton.
“Most of the other girls doubted the possibility of that. They said, ‘Are you
crazy? Who is going to allow a bunch of little girls, dressed up, to come inside
a jail and dance with their daddies?’”
Luckily, Patton found someone crazy enough to allow this — Richmond City Sheriff
“He is a very special sheriff,” explains Patton. “He contacted me immediately
and said that whenever there is an opportunity to bring families inside, his
doors are always open. One thing he knows is that when fathers are connected to
their children, it is less likely that they will return.”
And so, a father-daughter dance was held in the Richmond City Jail with 16
inmates and 18 daughters invited.
“The girls were dressed in their Sunday best. The fathers traded in their yellow
and blue jumpsuits for shirt and ties. They hugged … they laughed together,”
remembers Patton. “It was beautiful. The fathers and daughters experienced the
opportunity to have a physical connection … [The fathers could] extend their
hand for a dance. Even the guards cried.”
Patton hopes this evening will create permanent change for these families.
“We have created a forum for girls who have heavy questions on their heart to be
in a position to ask their fathers those questions, and given the fathers the
freedom to answer,” says Patton. “A father who is locked in should not be locked
out of his daughter’s life.”
To hear more about this incredible dance, and the wonderful ideas Patton and her
girls had for continuing the father-daughter bonding, watch today’s talk. And
after the jump, check out some photos taken at this unique dance.
In a room inside the Richmond City Jail, the girls wait for the dance to begin.
Because several of them had their ride fall through, a lieutenant colonel at the
jail went to pick them up himself.
As soon as the dance began, all 16 inmates and their daughters took to the dance
This father invited his twin daughters to the dance. Here, he holds one of them
as the group gets a salsa lesson.
9-year-old De’Brianna Richardson poses for a photo with her father, Faiz Lawton,
who was in jail for auto theft-grand larceny. Lawton tells Richmond
Magazine that the best part of the dance was, “Just being able to
embrace [De’Brianna]. Being able to hug her, hold her, squeeze her, kiss her,
talk to her closely, share a meal with her.”
All of the father-daughter pairs at the dance got to borrow FlipCams, allowing
them to record video messages for each other.
A father-daughter pair cut a rug on the dance floor. Because his daughter did
not get to the dance until late, this father was worried she wouldn’t show at
all. In addition to dancing, the fathers held a contest where they made up
rhymes about their daughters on the spot.
Lin’Asia Harris hugs her father, Linwood Harris, who was serving 90 days for
failure to pay child support. Harris was released shortly after the dance and
Magazine, “She knows from her heart that I’m not a bad person.”
The dance wrapped with the fathers and daughters dancing to Luther Vandross’
“Dance with My Father.” As the daughters left the Richmond City Jail, they
exchanged journals with their fathers, each book full of messages for the other
to read when they felt distant.
NOMINATE YOUR DAD FOR THE
CAMP DIVA REAL FATHER AWARD
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