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     Hidden Princess: The Rebirth of Making Mary 

 

"The main question when considering a volume like the one you are about to read is where to begin.

“Hidden Princess: The Rebirth of Making Mary” is an opus of great importance to those who seek to understand the dynamics and shadings of “The Black Experience” – and that it is not just one such experience.

As a student of history, I am reminded of the saying of The Honorable Elijah Muhammad: “History is above all our studies. The most attractive and best qualified to reward our research. As it develops the springs and motives of human actions and displays the consequence of circumstances, which operates most powerfully on the destinies of the human being.”

Clearly, the events of individuals and families, neighbors and friends as written here, occurred against the backdrop of one of the most troubled and turbulent periods of all time, a period the aftershocks of which are still being felt today.

In order to weave a narrative like the one you are about to take in, a writer must have several qualifications of perspective and intellect. Such an author must be acquainted with the struggles of a people whose sojourn in America has been laden with a peculiar kind of tribulation. She must be able to empathize with and grasp the strivings and yearnings of “everyday people” to be loved and respected – to matter! This writer must be able to know, understand and contextualize the great happenings of the era under discussion, and how they affect the main characters as the apologue unfolds. The essayist who can create a full, robust read about the lives of “just plain folks” in times that are just plain apocalyptic, is the successful scribe, indeed. Author Dedra Muhammad is this kind of writer.

Dedra Muhammad is an intellectual of rare and unusual sensitivity and subtlety, possessor of the only kind of mind that could render such a work as this that places its moving account of a family’s trails and triumphs (moving) into the perfect, pinpoint accurate atmospheric context.

As I write this, I reflect on the unique qualifications of Mrs. Muhammad to pen this tome. She herself is the daughter of a family of migrants from the rural South to the bustling cities of the early 20th century. She spent her college years as a star student-athlete at the prestigious University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and today is an educator in the public school system in Alabama.

The book you are about to read is compelling, and- dare I say it? – interesting. Unlike many historic novels, there is no sacrifice of homiletics on the altar of history.

I know you are eager to begin the text of “Hidden Princess,” but if you will allow, I will convey three more brief points.

First, it is my honor and pleasure to extend my greetings of peace and paradise to you, obviously a discerning and discriminating reader. I am Jamil Muhammad (no relation to the author), a Student of Islam and a Muslim Minister in the Nation of Islam for the last 41 years. I make that notation not to impress you, but to impress upon you that a life of work like mine has prepared me with a unique set of qualifications to recommend “Hidden Princess…” As an activist-servant leader in cities across America, it has been my assignment to serve communities filled with the human witness that the account you are about to take in, is true.

For anyone who cares not only to know the problems that Black people in America have faced, but also to understand solutions, this book is a must-read. The plight of Black Americans has been misrepresented, exploited, distorted, ignored, and outright historically revised, but Mrs. Muhammad’s work rings true and is borne out as such by its uncanny sense of period, geography and sociological circumstance. Yes, it is a novel, but it is so much more. It is the story of an individual family and how they dealt with a tragically ubiquitous, collective reality.

Finally, “Hidden Princess…” will give even a casual reader pause, and compel him or her to reflect on the private account of their own family history. This volume that Dedra Muhammad wrote, that sits on my desk, between my pencil jar and my prized coffee mug, is like a trip back home, down the long and dusty road of time. I dare say that for you, whether you are a Black man or Black woman, a Caucasian, or even a person who has never set foot within the 6,000,000 square miles of the contiguous United States, this chronicle will move you. As I read it, her characters morphed into my own elders and ancestors. Carol and the Stranger and Beena and Casey and Vivian? Yes. But also Columbus and Herman and Golda and Leona. Not just this family, dear reader – OUR family.

So, prepare yourself. Prepare yourself and make room in your library for a cherished new addition: “Hidden Princess: The Rebirth of Making Mary”.

Jamil Muhammad

Washington, DC

February, 2022

Muhammad is on a mission to bring awareness and attention to the violence and sexual assault against Black women and girls.  

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