Collection Title: Jackson Purchase Oral History Project – Schools and Education
Series Number: OH259
Interviewee: Massie, William Harweda
Interviewer: Peyton, Bill
Date interviewed: August 14, 1979
Processed by: O'Daniel, Hannah
Date processed: March 24, 2014
Description: 1 sound disc (53 minutes)
Abstract: William Massie began the interview with biographical and occupational information related to his parents and siblings. He recounts his teachers and memories at Lincoln School in Paducah, Kentucky during the 1930s and 1940s. He explains his reasons for attending Winston-Salem Teachers College, including his connections to coach Clarence Gains, the lack of other schools to attend and the music scholarship he received during his first year at the school. He recalled why he transferred to Kentucky State College and his decision to pursue social work and teaching. He describes his first teaching experience in Caruthersville, Missouri before being drafted into the United States Army. He was stationed in Germany as a teacher and school administrator. He provides insight into the devastation felt by the German people following World War II. Massie also recounts incidences of racial prejudice against him in Germany. Following his return to the United States, he taught history at the University of Illinois at Urbana. He recalled that his most rewarding years as a teacher were at Rosenwald High School in Fairmont, North Carolina. In terms of economic and social advancement in the Paducah by 1960, Massie believed that the conditions for African Americans were improved but that opportunities in professional fields were severely limited. He recounted his family's experience as refugees during the Paducah Flood of 1937. He provides further biographical information on his parents, including their birthplaces, education, occupations and church activities. He concluded the interview with background and occupational information on his wife, Linda Jessie Moore Massie.
Biographical / Historical note: William Harweda Massie was born on January 21, 1929 in Paducah, Kentucky. His parents were Robert and Mattie Massie, a taxi operator and school teacher, respectively. He completed elementary, junior high, and high school at the all-black Lincoln School, in Paducah. He graduated from Lincoln School in 1946 and began that fall at Winston-Salem Teachers College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. After two years in North Carolina, he transferred to Kentucky State College in Frankfort, Kentucky to study sociology and economics. He graduated from Kentucky State College but was not able to find a job in social work in the Jackson Purchase area. He obtained a social studies and band teaching position in 1950 at a segregated high school in Caruthersville, Missouri. In 1951, he was drafted into the United States Army. Massie served in the Army for a total of two years and was stationed in Germany for eighteen months as an administrator and teacher. He returned in 1953 and began graduate work at the University of Illinois at Urbana. After obtaining his Master degree, he taught history for a year at a junior college in Buford, Mississippi. His next spent five years at Rosenwald High School in Fairmont, North Carolina. He left Fairmont to return to his hometown of Paducah in 1960, when the schools in Fairmont were in the process of desegregating. When he wasn't able to find work in Paducah, he moved to Chicago, Illinois and later Gary, Indiana for employment.
General information: No user access to original recordings. Use audio user copies, digital derivatives, transcripts, and/or tape indexes. This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code). Permission for reproduction must be requested from Murray State University.
Subject Headings / Descriptors:
Massie, William Harweda, 1929-
Segregation in education – Kentucky.
Education – Kentucky -- Paducah – History.
African Americans – Kentucky – History.
Kentucky – Race relations.
Lincoln High School (Paducah, Ky.)
Winston-Salem Teachers College.
Rosenwald High School (Fairmont, N.C.)