Name: Mary Dean
Author of Black Legends of Kansas
Could you tell us a bit about you and your background?
I am a mother of 3, grandmother of 8, and a great grandmother of 12. I have been a community activist for over 40 years and wrote a book that took me 10 years to finally get published.
Please briefly describe “The Black Legends of Kansas”?
The Black Legends of Kansas are the trailblazers that open doors for women of color to obtain access in opportunities in the Corporate World, as Legislative Representatives, City Councilwomen, Education Administrators and Educators, Women of Color in Media both in front of the camera and editors of newspapers, and women who are committed in being advocates in making a difference in the lives of people living in their communities.
What was your inspiration and motivation for the book?
I got my inspiration and motivation from Oprah Winfrey when she did her Legends Ball in 2012 where she recognized and honored women such as Maya Angelou, Aretha Franklin, and Yolanda Williams and so many more Black Women with a two-day affair.
How long did it take to compile the information and write the book?
It took me ten years to compile information with interviews and getting current pictures for the Legends to put in my book.
What are some challenges that you faced putting the book together, and how did you tackle them?
I was challenged to stay committed and focused to complete the book. How I overcame it was my dear friend Gwendolyn Baines who is a noted author and advice columnist in her own right. During our conversations Gwen would always ask me where I was at in my task of working on my book. This went on for at least 10 years. It was at a point for me of harassment but in a good way. So, finally I told Gwen after years of doing nothing that I got it, she was right, my book was too important and should be finished so that these Legends could be known to people throughout Kansas and beyond.
Are there any specific printing-related challenges you’ve come across in this project,
and how were they resolved?
I didn’t have any challenges on the printing. But the person who printed my book before POD Print was also selling my book without my permission, and it took me hiring an attorney to stop what was being done in my name.
Who most inspires you?
My grandmother Mary Puryear was a great inspiration to me. She was a community activist before I even knew what the word meant. She didn’t even complete grade school but yet she knew how to build things, was a great cook without using recipes, and was such a caring and loving person not only to her family but to her community as well.
What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of?
Completing my book, The Black Legends of Kansas
Where can we learn more about you and your book?
Tell us a little bit about the Black Women Empowered in Wichita organization,
and where we can find out more about it?
Unfortunately, the Black Women Empowered in Wichita, Inc. has been dissolved. But, you can still go to the Facebook page @BWEIW.INC to view all of the great things we did in the city.
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