Hello, beautiful readers! Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Shirley Harris-Slaughter, the author of Joyce Winifred Harris-Burkes: How I Remember My Mama. Today is Day 3 of her "Mother's Day and Other Favorite Things" blog tour. Please join me in welcoming Shirley to our space as she shares an interview she had right after she published Our Lady of Victory: The Saga of an African-American Catholic Community in 2007.
(2) $5 Amazon Gift Cards
(5) Tickets into RRBC's WC&BE Raffle for (7) $100 Amazon Gift Card Gift Baskets
Shirley is giving away some great prizes. All you need to do to have a chance to win is leave a comment below. :-)
AN INTERVIEW WITH SHIRLEY HARRIS-SLAUGHTER
Q. Tell us about yourself and what made
you decide to write this book?
A. My name is Shirley Slaughter. I am married to Langston and
reside in Oak Park, Michigan.
The idea kept mulling around in my head that we needed to tell
our story for the sake of history, or it would be lost forever. Plus, there are
not many Black Catholics left here in Michigan because of a policy of exclusion.
I kept waiting for someone else to write it. Turns out, it was me waiting for
me. I sometimes talk about this phenomenon when I am on speaking engagements.
Q: What did you mean by policy of
A: What I meant was that our church was never assigned a
permanent priest –they were all just administrators (not pastors) which makes a
huge difference when you are trying to grow a church with so many odds stacked
against it. It’s not a recipe for permanently growing a small ethnic church.
And so over time with so many priests coming in and out, it took a toll on the
community and people began to feel detached. I felt it as I watched people
leaving. It was never meant to last and doing the research was how I discovered
this little-known fact. It was just heartbreaking. I was trying to honor the
pioneers and the book took a different turn after I started discovering a lot
of discrepancies. I was so heartbroken over the things I uncovered but dusted
myself off and kept going. I couldn’t dress it up just because it was
unpleasant. The history still needed to be documented, not swept under a rug. I
say in the introduction “don’t shoot the messenger.”
Q: Your book is a narrative
history about your experience growing up in a Catholic Church in the West Eight
Mile Community. You did a wonderful job with the details. Why was it important
for you to share this story?
A: First of all, the West Eight Mile Community was
comprised of Royal Oak Twp. to the North and Detroit to the South bounded by
West Eight Mile Road. I had this nagging urge to tell our story to correct its
omission from the pages of history. I started a second career working at Our
Lady of Good Counsel on the east side and that’s where the urge took root.
Q: How long did it take you to
A: I started in 2002 and the book was published in 2007. It was
Re-published May 2014 through my affiliation with Rave Reviews Book Club.
Q: Was your family always
Catholic or did you change religion to become members of Our Lady of Victory?
A: My family was baptized into the faith in 1955. My mother did
not belong to a particular religion before then. She grew up in a sanctified
church and felt that there had to be something better. The book explains how
she found the faith which is quite a fascinating story in and of itself.
Q: One unique aspect about Our
Lady of Victory was the Federal Credit Union that was in the basement of the
church. In light of the financial crisis today, how do you think this
organization would do today if it were still active?
A: It probably would do quite well. The Federal Credit Union was
a historical gem that I did not appreciate during my growing-up years. I was
too young. The people back then were very innovative. I was impressed when I
came to the realization of what these pioneers had done just to survive and
find credit since the banks were not lending back then. Some pioneers resorted
to building their own homes when they could not get financing. They pitched
tents on their property. I realized that there was so much history that needed
to be documented or it would be lost forever. I don’t know where this urge came
from since I didn’t like history in school. Nothing piqued my interest until we
needed to save a neglected train station that had lots of history. I galvanized
the community, got some publicity, and got an A on my Research paper which was
presented to the university I attended.
Q: Your book was published by iUniverse. Why did you decide to
forfeit traditional publishing for a print-on-demand publisher?
A: I took some advice from my nephew and did a pre-order
promotion before the book even had a publisher. I was trying to really
self-publish. That didn’t work out because I had not found an editor and that
held up the printing. I started to panic because I had all these people’s money
and no book. A friend of mine recommended iUniverse because of the editing
problems and that is how I abandoned self-publishing and went with them, which was
a form of self-publishing anyway. I was trying to get the book out to my
customers who waited a whole year and were exceptionally patient. Traditional
publishing would have also required that I send out query letters and
manuscripts or find an agent. I was not up to doing that. I was drained after
the interviews, the research and trying to get the book to print. I don’t think
I would use them today, but it was all I had short of getting an agent and
trying for the big publishing houses.
Q: What do you hope readers will
learn from reading your book?
A: Most people do not know enough about black catholic history
and blacks especially don’t know enough about themselves. To move forward you
have to know where you have been. At the very least it explains why the Black
Catholic Church is losing ground in the Detroit area. I certainly have gotten
enlightened once I learned the background because it explains why there are no
Black priest today to keep our church doors open. Most of the people I meet are
former Catholics. That is alarming. I wrote about 4 Black churches closing to
show a pattern of similar experiences to demonstrate that we were not the only
church closing but not knowing this gave us a feeling of isolation.
Q: Are you writing another book?
A: I want to write about how I overcame a health crisis because
had I not accomplished that, this book would never have been written. I started
writing just as my health began to improve.
This interview was done right after I
published “Our Lady of Victory: The Saga of an
African-American Catholic Community” back in 2007. It was part of the PR arm of iUniverse. I have added
several more books and changed publishers since then. “Joyce Winifred Harris-Burkes: HOW I REMEMBER MY MAMA
is the current release.”
happened between 1945 and 1946 at the headquarters of the Archdiocese of
Detroit in the Chancellor's office. Msgr. John C. Ryan called an emergency
meeting with the cardinal...
And so the stage was set for the years of turmoil that followed
and the subsequent demise of this once vibrant church. Here comes the author
who gives the reader an intimate look at her catholic community, the township
she grew up in, and its historical significance to World War II, Henry Ford's
auto plant, migration from the south, and the housing crisis that was
unfolding. She talks about having fond memories as well as sadness and pain.
While preparing a farewell speech for the departing pastor, she wondered at the
age of twelve what was going to happen to her and the parish family she came to
love. What a burden for a young child to bear? The reader is introduced to the
pioneers who helped shape and establish this community that shaped her. But the
book takes a different turn as the research uncovers forgotten secrets...
Today this little church has closed its physical doors forever!!
Stay tuned as this story continues to unfold.
Our Lady of Victory: The Saga of an
African-American Catholic Community
book evolved out of years of frustration at the total disregard and lack of
respect for the contributions of Black Catholics in the city of Detroit. The
author says, "We are not mentioned in the pages of history along with the
other Catholic churches that sprung up during the World War II era, and that
needed to be corrected.” The author did fulfill one dream since publication …
that this church can now be found on the web even though it has merged with
another church. It is now called Presentation-Our Lady of Victory Catholic
Shirley Harris-Slaughter is the author of Our Lady of Victory, the Saga of an African-American Catholic Community
which was written to address a need to preserve Catholic history in her local
community. She mentored four freshman girls at the local
middle school. She is active in her church and Rave Reviews Book
Club a virtual book
club community where she has added another biography and fiction to her
repertoire. She is married to Langston and is a Michigan Native.
And now, Slaughter has written a memoir about her
mother, Joyce Winifred Harris-Burkes: How I Remember My Mama. It talks about
memories regarding her life, and her works. The theme is about how the apple
doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Slaughter is an activist just like her
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:
Amazon Author Central Page
Our Lady of Victory
AMAZON PURCHASE LINKS:
Winifred Harris-Burkes: HOW I REMEMBER MY MAMA
Our Lady of Victory, the Saga of an African-American Catholic Community
L. Powell: Missing in Action
Hot! And Living On The Edge!!
CITIZEN’S GROUP IN ACTION: Saving a Train Station
To follow along with the rest of this tour, please visit the author's tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site. If you'd like to schedule your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE. Thanks for supporting this author and her work!