Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Her Poems Delve into Highs, Lows of Her Life; Motivational Speaker Prefers to Be Positive

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Her Poems Delve into Highs, Lows of Her Life; Motivational Speaker Prefers to Be Positive

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHN CARTER

She can't help being upbeat and having a good word for everyone she meets.

It comes through in her storytelling, poetry and motivational speaking. But mostly it comes through in the big smile, eye contact and embrace she has for nearly everyone she meets.

Ironically, she believes that affability and eternal optimism spring from a hurtful place in her childhood memories.

"Kids just made fun of me all the time," said Melba Furlow-Herrington. "I don't think they meant to be so hurtful. I mean, kids are just kids and say what they think. But they ridiculed me for being different. Partly, I stuck to myself and concentrated on academics because that's just my nature. But what they ridiculed me for was having dark skin. Other African-Americans made fun of me for being dark-skinned, and that's the truth."

She says she began to pump up her psyche with "little positive internal speeches." She began to tell herself they were wrong and that she should be judged by the content of her character. She did a good job of convincing herself.

Furlow-Herrington, 32, is a graduate of Raines High School and still lives on the Northside. She was Miss Black Florida 1995-96. She has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Florida A&M University, a master's in administration from Central Michigan University and is pursuing a doctorate.

She mentors young people, coaches girls for pageants, acts, plays flute and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Lambda Alpha Epsilon, the National Council of Negro Women, the Department of Juvenile Justice Council and the Chamber of Commerce's Northwest Council. She works at River Region Human Services, managing clients with substance abuse problems.

She's written a book of poetry, Voices of Soul, and will have a book-signing at 7 p.m. Friday at the Mary Singleton Center's community theater, 150 E. …

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