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Jan 24, 2021

A lover of God, people, and history, Mary McLean Dowdell has dedicated her life to making sure that the untold stories of her family are now being made available for the world to read.

Mary is a resident of Greensboro, NC.  She is also the author of Brick to Brick: Building a Black Family in America. The inspiration behind the book came from her own family history and experiences.

Mary says she wrote the book to give the history of her family

After her parents, Neil and Iva McLean, were married, they returned to a small town in Eastern North Carolina called Brick. The American Missionary Association had already established life centers where black people or freed slaves could learn how to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency. Her parents were sent to gather people and assume leadership of the center that was in Brick.
Once her parents took over the center, they worked to teach black people basic skills to improve their everyday lives. Mary shares that one of the things they taught them was farming. Although they knew how to take care of a farm, they didn’t know about the decisions when it came to selling produce. Her parents taught them about leadership and the economics of the farm. They also taught them about owning property, home management, and home economics.
Mary believes black people should tell their history. There are all kinds of books about what other people do but not a lot about what we do or have done.
The second part of the book tells the story of Mary herself as well as her siblings, as a product of her parents. She wanted to include what happened to her parent’s children. So, she had her oldest brother write something and she also gave all of her siblings the opportunity to write.  She even has something in the book about her siblings who have died. 
Mary is also an Evangelist Missionary and serves at Evangel Fellowship Church of God in Christ. She is a recent PhD graduate at the age of 73, and the mother of three adult children and the grandmother of five children.
Mary believes that despite who you are or what you look like, the possibilities are endless. She also does not believe in limitations of age. She says, “Look at who you are. Look at what your world view is and what your self-view is. You see testimonies every day of people doing great things. We are all born empty slates and have the same potential to achieve something amazing."
To learn more about Mary Dowdell, please visit her website at
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