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Zora Neale Hurston Part 12 of 15 Part Series On Black Authors

Their Eyes Were Watching God. I wondered about the title alone. I was curious about whose eyes and why in the past tense? Are they still watching God? Were they expecting a miracle? Where was God that they actually saw her? Who are they? Needless to say, I had to read this book. I remember reading it wondering what if there was an all-black town. What if this could really happen. It turns out there wasn’t just one all-black town but several across the southern states and a few even finding their way up North.

There is speculation around when Zora Neale Hurston was born, but the most popular date is January 7, 1891, to John and Lucy Hurston as their sixth of what would become eight children. Eatonville, where Hurston was used as the backdrop for most of her works, including Their Eyes Were Watching God. Hurston’s father was voted Mayor of Eatonville making her first daughter! However, Hurston had a stepmother that like most stepmothers saw no value in her stepdaughter, and as a Hurston’s father stopped paying her tuition at the boarding school she attended, and Hurston was kicked out and sent back home. That didn’t stop Hurston who went on to graduate from Barnard College.

Hurston moved to New York and met up with the likes of Langston Hughes, Richard Wright and other artists of the Harlem Renaissance. Hurston and Hughes were good friends often going on road trips together and sharing their work with one another. When they both took on sponsorship from Charlotte Osgood Mason, their relationship took on a more complicated aspect. Some say that the relationship never recovered from a disagreement the two had, but others speculate that there was a conversation that took place between them. Hurston was also accused of plagiarizing her work, “Cudjoe’s Own Story of the Last African Slaver.” However, in 2018, Her work Barracoon was published, and it tells the story of Cudjo the last slave to arrive in America on the slave ship the Clotilda. Hurston’s training as an anthropologist enticed her into gaining the stories of past slaves and recording slave narratives for the Federal Writer’s Project.

Video on YouTube: Meet the Past-Zora Neale Hurston: Published by KCPT 4-3-2015

Hurston, like most writers, did not see fame in her lifetime. Posthumously, she was re-introduced by Alice Walker, and her work has been on fire since. Their Eyes Were Watching God was turned into a television movie starring Halle Berry and Michael Ealy. Zora Neale Hurston died poor and broke in a welfare home in Florida. Hurston did great work, and it should never go unappreciated.

Thank you, Zora Neale Hurston, for your contributions.

The Writer

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