Author Raises Awareness About Harmful Racial Stereotypes, Shares Family’s Inspiring Legacy in New Memoir

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I want readers who may not have had the African American experience to see the truth and relevancy in my family’s story.

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the U.S. in early 2020, many Americans found themselves isolated in their homes, and once in-person social gatherings with loved ones swiftly became video chats. But for author Martin S. Manuel, this allowed him more opportunities to communicate with his relatives and inspired him to write a book about his family’s rich history. In the process, he found that the struggles his parents faced as an African American couple remain highly relevant today in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent national discourse around racial justice and critical race theory.

In “Manuel Strong: The Life and Legacy of James and Florine Manuel,” Martin shares how his parents, James and Florine Manuel, were ordinary people who went on to make an extraordinary impact on their children and community. “Manuel Strong” explores how James and Florine’s legacy contradicts harmful stereotypes of Black families in the U.S. Following the example of their ancestors who rose from slavery, they encouraged their children and everyone around them to become high achievers. Guided by their profound Christian faith, James and Florine never boasted about their accomplishments, and they gave all the credit to God.

As Martin examined his parents’ lives and traced his ancestors back to the Civil War, he found their story came at a critical juncture in American history in which the country is struggling to confront the legacy of its past. Often, Martin said, racism is missing from education about America’s history. And the best way to bridge these crucial gaps in knowledge, he continued, is to tell stories – like that of his parents.

“African American people are, to a large extent, not known and not understood because we were not voluntary immigrants to this country,” Martin said. “Our story hasn’t been told. And when it has been depicted by Hollywood and in popular culture, it’s with a motivation of entertainment, which does not always represent the truth. I want readers who may not have had the African American experience to see the truth and relevancy in my family’s story.”

Ultimately, “Manuel Strong” highlights how James and Florine applied their desire, drive, and faith throughout life, marriage, and parenting. Their approach resulted in an enduring relationship with each other and a powerful connection with their children, even when times were hard. “Manuel Strong” is a testament to the pivotal truth that all people can achieve great things despite immense obstacles.

“I had a hard time putting this down,” a reader wrote in a five-star review of the book. “… It’s refreshing to read accounts of Black Americans, that show success even when their environment is stacked against them.”

“Manuel Strong: The Life and Legacy of James and Florine Manuel”
By Martin S. Manuel
ISBN: 978-1-6642-3767-4 (hc); ISBN: 978-1-6642-3766-7 (sc); 978-1-6642-3775-9 (e)
Available through WestBow Press, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon

About the author
Martin S. Manuel is a husband, father, grandfather, and ordained Christian minister. He is the eldest living son of James and Florine Manuel, who lived in Central Ohio, and brother of 13 living and four deceased Manuel children. After a career in technology and management, Martin retired from the IBM Corporation in 1999 and began a second career in pastoral ministry. He earned his Master of Pastor Studies degree from Grace Communion Seminary. The Beyond 400 podcast recently interviewed Martin for a forthcoming episode, and “Manuel Strong” was featured in an article for the Urbana Daily Citizen. “Manuel Strong” is his third book, and he is also the author of “Dear Jason” and “Echo of Jesus’ Prayer – in the Church”. Martin currently resides in Charlotte, N.C. To learn more, please follow the author on Facebook and Instagram.

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