A Philadelphia educator publishes her personal journal in an empowering narrative that demonstrates her unwavering resolve to survive the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Dana Lee Martin is a writer and assistant principal of the Post-Secondary with Mastery Charter School in Philadelphia, PA. In her new book Black Woman Surviving: Passionately Manage My Life, she chronicles her emotional journey through the pandemic as a wife, mother, dedicated educator, and community leader.

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Coping with grief and loss, as well as rage and resentment brought on by the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the nationwide uprisings that followed, Martin pens a vulnerable and compelling narrative of her experience as an African American mother and educator in a world that constantly needs to be reminded that Black lives matter.

“The title is a testament to the spirit of Black women everywhere who make it happen; those of us who continuously make it through without applause or accolades.

Things need to be done, so we do them. It’s a testament to living everyday life on top of a pandemic, prevailing blatant racism, gun violence, and everything else that must be dealt with while managing the lives and emotions of those around us,” Martin explains.

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Although Martin wrote this collection with no intentions for it to be published, she felt compelled to share her story after meeting up with Brandi Hester-Harell, founder of Mahogany Pen Publishing (MPP), who was vital in helping Martin realize that her story was worth sharing.

“I have written educational books and have an almost twenty-year career in education and college counseling, but this book is so much more personal. I didn’t think I had something that people wanted to read unless I was providing a service. Brandi helped me think otherwise, and now here we are,” says Martin.

Martin credits her editor, Karissa J. Grant for her help in organizing her messy collection of journal entries and blog posts from 2020 into a rough manuscript with prevailing themes and structure.

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Martin says the most difficult part of publishing her book was getting out of her own way.

“I was so scared at the beginning and delayed publication for over a year with my inconsistency and fear, but MPP remained by my side. I never felt rushed and though I tried to give up on myself Brandi and the team pushed me to keep going. I was supported through all parts from editing, and cover creation to formatting through to publication day.”

This setback was a shock for Martin who is usually great at motivating others to take chances and believe in themselves but doing so for herself felt impossible.

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When asked about her thoughts on the current state of the publishing industry, Martin wishes for a better representation of Black women in literature.

“I don’t like the idea of a book section for Black authors. I wish there were a better way of interspersing authors who look like me in all sections of the bookstore. I wish big publishers would take more chances on Black authors who aren’t celebrities. Every genre should have an equal representation of Black women within,” she argues.

Her biggest lesson from her publishing journey was learning to trust herself a little more.

“This book was so personal, and I thought that because I am an educator, I shouldn’t let people see me in this light, but I should have sought help in publishing a long time ago. I should have listened to myself more. There are so many untold stories that need to be shared within the pages of a book,” she says.

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Besides her latest release, Black Woman Surviving: Passionately Managing My Life, Martin has also published Creatively Closing the Gap: Unconventional Ways to Find Money for College (2016) and Decision Time! What to Do Next: How to Make the Best College Decision in Spring of Senior Year – A Step By Step Guide (2021). She dedicated both books to helping her community find alternate routes to gaining an affordable college education.

With almost twenty years of experience as an educator and community leader, Martin is also the founder of Dana’s Resource Inc., a non-profit access network that connects Philadelphia citizens to occupational, educational, and life resources, and Get My Kid to College, an organization that offers college prep resources to parents and students.

She is a member of the Pennsylvania Association of College Admissions Counseling (PACAC), the National Association of College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), and a board member of the For Black Girls Non-Profit.

She was the recipient of the Gary M. Kelsey Human Relations Award (2016), the Uptown Standard Awards (2021), and the NACAC Rising Star Awards (2021) for her contributions to the Philadelphia education system.

In her last words to our readers, Martin shares this quote:

“You have the power to save yourself. Do it & love yourself for it.”




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