**** Double Standards – An Honest Perspective Review by Rox Burkey
Author Shirley Harris-Slaughter’s book shares the historical facts around the Catholic church and school in Detroit. In the 1950s, the best educations were thought to come from Catholic schools. Catholic schools focused, and still do, on broad educational studies, shaping students’ character, discipline, religion, and community. The achievement scores compared to public schools backed up those beliefs. Nuns were there to teach and took an interest in their student’s success.
Our Lady of Victory was a part of the African American community setting it apart from Catholic churches and schools. She reveals that the Archdiocese of Detroit, despite this community’s efforts to succeed with the church and school, undermined the efforts and caused it to close. Church leadership focused on success within white communities. They blocked black men from becoming priests.
I was appalled to learn of the rise in tuition to dissuade blacks from attending Catholic schools. Busing, however, was so common everywhere during that time of forced segregation. Before the Civil Rights legislation of Brown vs. Board of Education, it is sad to learn from the author’s research that churches perpetuated discrimination. Author Harris-Slaughter completed extensive research of saved documents, interviews, and other research to back up the information. One of my favorite passages from her investigation was Sarah Jane McKenzie-Hilton’s writings on the community’s efforts to establish the church. This was a great example of people pulling together in a common cause for their families.
“Sarah received her degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio. Sarah Jane McKenzie-Hilton passed away on December 24, 2006. The next piece is Sarah’s memories written in her own words. With the help of dedicated neighbors and potential parishioners, the mission was cleaned and renovated. Many generous benefactors donated monies and religious articles. Fr. Alvin Deem was young and energetic. He evangelized from door to door in the black Eight Mile Community.
Madre Bates, a Catholic from birth, helped Fr. Alvin recruit members. She recruited my family. We were baptized and received our first Holy Communion on May 28, 1944. Combined, we were one of the largest families in the early days. The family included Hazel Louise McFadden (deceased), Josephine E. Chin (deceased), Clarice V. (deceased), Una Blanche, and Cousin Conrad C. Gordon.
Fr. Alvin taught the Catholic faith to potential parishioners and offered Mass on Sundays and holy days. During the summer months, with the help from the Sisters of Marygrove College, he held large religious programs at Birdhurst. He found help for the very poor. He helped youths to get in Catholic schools and encouraged them to go on for higher learning. Today many of those same youths are professional men and women contributing to society.”
I believe this book will open the eyes of many to the struggles of the African American community, chronicled in Detroit beginning in the late 1940s. The results of the damaging efforts by the Catholic church extend far beyond this community. Other situations in other cities like New York, Boston, San Francisco, and El Paso continue to cry out for better equality and an end to racism. Author Shirley Harris-Slaughter highlights that the history which occurred in the time of Our Lady of Victory should never be repeated at the expense of any race nor to fill the church coffers.
About the Author
My name is Shirley Harris-Slaughter and I’ve been a published author since 2007, although my life plans never included becoming a writer. I was urged to write when I realized there were things going on around me, threatening my community’s survival and yet it seemed no one was paying attention to the urgency of it all. I never dreamed that I would be the “chosen one” to take on the task, but I was, and so, after much research, sleepless nights and being shunned by those who didn’t want me to tell this story, “OUR LADY OF VICTORY: THE SAGA OF AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY” was born. Something that started out as just a timeline of events to honor the pioneers of this West Eight Mile Community, turned into a full-blown narrative history.
Like most Indie authors, I was struggling to get even a little recognition in an already over-crowded field. Then, I happened upon the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB where I served for a short while on the Governing Board. This club is all about supporting and helping authors.
RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB is the brainchild of Founder & President, Author, Nonnie Jules. She took the time to read my book and gave it an honest review. Since becoming a part of this awesome organization, I have been blessed with many opportunities which further profiled and brought recognition to my book. I have had such honors as being: the President’s Pick in the online Newsletter, a “WHO’S ON THE SHELF” Interview by Nonnie Jules, a #PUSHTUESDAY Winner, a week-long “SPOTLIGHT” AUTHOR BLOG TOUR,” Blogs and Trailer Block Parties, and I’ve held countless other seats, which are too great in number for me to list here. Aside from being an active reader and writer, I am also a community-activist, and from time to time, I lend my name to petitions to stop something or another. I may even pick up the phone to call my elected Representatives, if that’s what it takes to get something accomplished.
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