I talk about my first encounter with historic individuals in Part 1 (A Personal Perspective) in which I reminisce about Gwendolyn Keith-Edwards. Gwen and I naturally gravitated to one another in my freshmen year of high school. I was extremely shy and so it was a relief to find a friend on that very first day on top of trying to fit in.
Her father, Luther C. Keith, was a prominent Catholic and real estate agent, who use to find property for the archdiocese of Detroit to purchase in order to build their churches and schools for new catholic communities in the city of Detroit. He helped Fr. Norman Dukette procure a location for his first church, St. Benedict the Moor, a former Lutheran church. His brother (Gwen’s uncle) is the Honorable Judge Damon Keith. I discovered that Gwen’s mother was equally as active as her husband. She (Savella) was involved in civic affairs and they entertained foreign figures in their home. Gwen’s brother Luther A. Keith, former Detroit News’ senior editor & media consultant, did a tribute to his father in a Detroit News special section. He said he did not appreciate what his father’s legacy was until he got old enough to understand it. He and I talked about this extensively because I didn’t understand how talented my mother was until someone else pointed it out. We don’t realize the history we are surrounded with until it is written about and explored.
Mother Anna Bates who was the founder of our little church used to teach piano lessons to all the kids in the neighborhood including me. I went to school all those years and never knew who she really was. And so I found many surprises as I delved into the history of OLV.
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I had planned on writing something else this week but something came up and the topic has changed:
Yesterday Saturday, June 8, 2013 I attended the 70-Year Commemoration Celebration of the Knights of St. Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary at Christ the King Church in Flint, Michigan. The reason I bring this up is because I wrote about their founder, Fr. Norman Dukette, in my book (P. 165, 3rd Paragraph down and P.176 1st sentence & 2nd paragraph). You see, Fr. Dukette was practically the only archdiocesan black priest in the Detroit diocese in the early years of the 20th century. He was banned from serving here and was sent to Flint in 1929 to start up a new church from scratch. Archdiocesan priest are not missionaries, they do not start up new churches but that’s what they did to Fr. Dukette. He founded St. Benedict the Moor in Detroit in 1927 and Christ the King in Flint in 1929. He left Detroit under mysterious circumstances and, well, you’ll just have to read the book to get the full story. It begins on page 180 under St. Benedict the Moor.
I tell you, when I started digging up history I was surprised at the stories I began to uncover. It always seem to go back to racism. I’m sorry, but I do not apologize for being the messenger. I put a disclaimer in my introduction of sorts because I almost didn’t complete the book because I got so shaken after presenting the manuscript to a priest who told me the book was fascinating but that he could not support it and practically pushed me out of his office while a local magazine reporter was sitting in the waiting room.. The reporter was so shocked that he asked me for my phone number so he could get the scoop behind what was happening to me. That disclaimer is in the Introduction on page 3. The deacon at the church I worked for at the time as the business manager, told me to “keep on writing and don’t let nobody stop you”. And with words of encouragement from my husband, I continued on. But this book almost didn’t get written because I was uncovering so many secrets that weren’t exactly meant to be found and folks were getting edgy.
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