The Slave Narrative of Willie Mae (TSNWM) is a work of historical fiction by multidisciplinary artist Ifé Franklin which tells the story of Willie Mae Lenox, a 20-year old Black woman enslaved in Virginia in the mid 1800s, who sets upon her journey to freedom. During the time of enslavement, Willie Mae and her contemporaries were rendered invisible in public life and spaces. TSNWM began as a series of blog posts and live readings and was published in book form in 2018, edited by Letta Neely, published by Wild Heart Press, and printed by Red Sun Press (ISBN 966309715, 9780966309713). TSNWM is now taking the form of a performance piece which invites the audience into Willie Mae’s environment, creating a sense of connection and immediacy between today’s community members and those who lived their lives in American chattel slavery. This project is not merely an artistic enterprise, it is a metaphysical one – it represents the transformation of the book into a living embodiment of the enslaved ancestors and co-creating with the audience a shared future of freedom and liberation.
The Slave Narrative of Willie Mae: A Performance Piece is supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts' Creative City Boston program, with funding from the Barr Foundation. This project is also made possible in part by a Live Arts Boston grant from the Boston Foundation.