I love the Five Star Review that Nonnie Jules gave my book “Our Lady of Victory, the Saga of an African-American Catholic Community” for this reason; no one has captured this story quite the way she did and from such an angle.
The “Introduction” is what drove Nonnie’s Review. Now I’d like to offer you an understanding of why I wrote that Introduction Page.
Like Nonnie says, most people wouldn’t touch it with a 10’ pole. It took great courage for me to write this story after I got into the research and uncovered things that were not meant for me to see. I did not go into writing this book for that reason. My goal was to satisfy an urging or calling going on in my head for several years to capture the history before it is lost forever. I wanted to give recognition to the pioneers who built this church and school from the ground up and made it truly a Catholic Community. That was historic considering the fact that most black communities are made up of folks moving in and taking up residence when another ethnic group moves out.
Being just a recipient of what all these pioneers had done did not make me a person of instant knowledge about what went into the making of this Catholic Church and community. It was not easy to do because the diocese never saw the need to build in the area known as the West Eight Mile Community. It took great effort just to get them to recognize the need to save souls in this forgotten community, which is what they should have been about in the first place. Once the deed was actually done, the diocese, over the years, went about trying to dismantle it. They finally succeeded. OLV is gone and its history would have gone with it. Fortunately I came along.
After the manuscript was finished I was referred to a priest in the diocese who was himself an author.
He went on vacation, read it, returned and told me it was fascinating and then he said this…
“I can’t support it. It’s too negative and we already are still reeling from the sex scandals.”
He then handed me the manuscript and quickly shoved me out of his office. A local reporter was in the waiting room witnessing this and asked me for my phone number. He was surprised at the way I was being handled.
I got to my car, sat down and was so shaken I had to sit there for a while to collect myself before driving off. The doubts flooded in.
“Should I continue this or should I abandon the whole project?
My husband had read the manuscript and had given me his opinion which was that it was fascinating and he said, “you wrote it from your heart.” He was impressed and told me not to quit. That word “fascinating” kept coming up again and again. I felt good that I actually wrote a good book but I was a little afraid.
The deacon at Our Lady of Good Counsel (my employer & where I finally got the nudge to write) also gave me some words of encouragement. He said (not in these exact words) that the Catholic Church is like a country club. They are only going to let in those they want in. I was stunned, but it began to explain a lot. He told me to finish the book. That coming from a Causasian made his statement that much more credible and gave me the strength to see it through. But I was still afraid and a little angry to be put in this position.
I knew that I had stumbled onto something that I was not supposed to talk about. It only made me more determined to bring this book to publication.
And that is why I wrote that introduction that caught Nonnie’s attention. I was protecting myself because I didn’t know what else was coming. I did know that I had to clean it up a bit because I had injected my own hurt feelings into the story and so I had to remove my words in order to write a credible non-biased historical document.
I hired an editor who suggested I tell my personal story as well and that is how this book went from a typical historical book to a narrative history; a phrase coined when I was asked to speak before the Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society at the Detroit Public Library. They sought me out because they never had a book told in this genre before. They treated me like a celebrity and really appreciated the work I put into this book. And they never heard it from a black perspective either which was equally intriguing to them.
There are so few Black Catholics today (at least up North) that I must have looked like an oddity to them. I did a power point presentation showing pictures and telling the story.
But along the way I hit roadblocks. People were not comfortable knowing the truth. I couldn’t even get a conversation going. It upset me that people could accept things the way they were after getting another side revealed. It was almost like they were afraid to “rock the boat.”
So thank you Nonnie Jules for seeing the truth and not being afraid to discuss it.
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A FIVE STAR REVIEW BY NONNIE JULES: