Zora Neale Hurston: so multifaceted, so talented, so passionate, so tragic.
I first heard of her via her quotes, some of which are simple astounding. Here are two that literally make my heart stop… and then start again, more courageously.
“Grab the broom of anger and drive off the beast of fear.”
“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”
Later, I was a part of a reading from Their Eyes Are Watching God her most successful book, when it was a part of a city-wide reading program here in Bakersfield a couple years ago. What I didn’t know at the time was how much mystery and how much sadness surrounds this wildly successful in many ways woman, a pioneer of the Harlem Renaissance.
She was a folklorist, an anthropologist and an author whose birthdate may waver between a ten year span: was she born on January 7, 1891 and changed that date to January 7, 1901 so she could participate in scholarship programs and get an education?
Some sources say, hands down, she was born in 1891. Other documents insist she is ten years younger and born in 1901.
She attended Howard University and then got a scholarship to Barnard College, where she graduated with a degree in Anthropology when she was either 26 or 36 years old. She did graduate study in anthropology for two years at Columbia University.
In 1925 she joined forces with other African-American writers, most notably Langston Hughes, and contributed as collaborators and also individually to bring the Harlem Renaissance to life and to forever have a place in history.
She started to fall out of favor with many of her friends when she became outspoken and in direct opposite view of the most common perspectives on Civil Rights issues. She became an enemy and certainly not someone with whom others would choose to partner.
She went into writing retirement and ended her days substitute teaching and working as a domestic before she died in 1960. Alice Walker, a later best selling African American author, began researching and writing about Zora Neale Hurston and her life-work, after death, was reborn.
This blog post is an entry in the A to Z Challenge. Each day in April (except Sundays) I will be featuring a woman in literary history. If you click on the logo below, you will be introduced to the writing of more than a thousand bloggers writing on a wide variety of topics in April, all from A to Z!
Julie Jordan Scott has been a Life & Creativity Coach, Writer, Facilitator and Teleclass Leader since 1999. She is also an award winning Actor, Director, Artist and Mother Extraordinaire. She was twice the StoryTelling Slam champion in Bakersfield. She teaches a teleclass/ecourse "Discover the Power of Writing & Telling Engaging, Enlightening Stories" which begins again April 19, 2012. Find details by clicking this link.
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