Author: Ishrael Massie


“Interview with Rev. Ishrael Massie” (April 23, 1937)

Reverend Ishrael Massie, a man born into slavery, tells an interviewer from the Virginia Writers Project about his life. Rev. Massie describes witnessing the sale of enslaved people and violence from white enslavers, as well as some religious practices of the enslaved communities he was part of. The editors of Weevils in the Wheat inserted comments in this transcription. Their bracketed comments have been included below. This narrative is a compilation of various sources of interviews with Rev. Massie. This interview, along with other Virginia Writers Project interviews, offer a composite portrait of interviewees’ self-styled personal stories. Interviewers’ interests, lived experiences, and editing choices, as well as their social relations and expectations shaped their relationship and conversation with the interviewees. Although the interviews aren’t unmediated autobiographies, they are no less authentic and are just as fruitful a source for reconstructing historical experience.