By now many of you know me pretty well but for those who don’t my name is Shirley Harris-Slaughter and my twitter handle is @motorcityauthor. I was born in the great state of Michigan and raised in the Charter Township of Royal Oak. I spent most of my time dreaming of the day when I could get out and start my life elsewhere. Then I discovered we were a historical community founded by a runaway slave on the “underground railroad.” I began to appreciate my roots. I discovered all this history way before ever thinking about writing.
My mother was a gifted poet and writer of children’s stories. She also was a great speaker. So what in the world could I contribute to this family? My parents were activists in the community and I watched them not realizing they were shaping me. I became a community activist before I started to write and I developed an appreciation for historical places and buildings which led me to try and save our local train station. Wrote a thesis on The Implementation of the Most Comprehensive Approach to Restoring the Michigan Central Depot. This project brought lots of attention and publicity to this neglected historical site. I don’t know why it’s taking me so long to get a copyright but it’s on my to-do list.
All of this led me to try and capture the history of our Catholic Community. So I wrote about my experience growing up in this environment. I titled the book, Our Lady of Victory, the Saga of an African-American Catholic Community. The title kind of stuck although my intention was to change it. This book had been gathering steam in my head for a long time before I actually set down to write. I felt that our history was gone because the church had merged and the school was razed after sitting empty for years and becoming an eyesore.
I was invited to speak about this to the Fred Hart Williams Geneological Society affiliated with the Detroit Public Library’s Burton Historical Collections. Mark Bowden tagged the book a Narrative History. You see, geneology is normally written in a timeline order. I was surprised that they found me and asked me to speak before their group. They never had history told in narrative form before and certainly not the topic I wrote about. I was paid a speaker’s fee and was able to autograph and sell books after the presentation. I was humbled by the attention and respect they lavished on me—just like a celebrity!
And now the church that I had known most of my life is closing its physical doors and moving over to a little chapel inside our so-called sister parish, St. Scholastica. We get to keep the deacon and our weekly priest. We get to retain our name. I guess that’s supposed to make us happy. This was a wealthy parish mind you. Over the years enrollment started dwindling with the closing of the school and people passing away. In spite of that we still managed to reach our fundraising goal of approximately $150,000.00, in 2013 but it wasn’t enough. The Archdiocese of Detroit has a lousy policy that’s not conducive to nurturing and growing our little community. With a different set of rules we could have stayed open and thrived. You have to own something in order to do that. Catholics don’t own their churches. And so this will continue to happen.
The merged Presentation-Our Lady of Victory is closing its physical doors on February 22, 2014. It is another experiment I’m afraid. The first experiment came when they merged Our Lady of Victory with Presentation Church. It didn’t go very smoothly. So I am very sad by this latest turn of events. But I’m glad the story was captured because they can never take that away.
The saga will go on and on. I appreciate being able to share this story with you. I hope you get as much out of this book as I got out of researching and writing it. It has been quite a journey and the knowledge acquired while doing this very worthwhile project is priceless. You can get the complete story from the book. The history is who I am.
Please do stop by.
Click on this link to get your copy!
Website blog: http://rememberourladyofvictory.com/