Black History Profile--Zora Neale Hurston

Black History Profile:

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)

--one of the most prolific American writers in history; focused on the struggles of African-American women

--born the 6th of 8 children, her parents struggled and had numerous jobs through her early years

--when she was young, her family moved to Eatonville,FL--one of the first mostly black towns--where her father became mayor and minister of it's largest church

--when her mother passed at age 13 and she was quickly shipped off to boarding school by her new step-mother, who subsequently stopped paying tuition and she was expelled

--living among random family members and taking odd jobs for years, when she was 26 (and claimed to be 17), she was given a free high school education and went to Howard University--becoming one of the earliest members of Zeta Phi Beta and co-founded the Hilltop, Howard's newspaper

--throughout her college career, she studied: Spanish, English, Greek, Anthropology, Ethnography ( a scientific description of people and their cultures) and Public Speaking--graduating with a B.A. in Anthropology

--she became a fixture during the Harlem Renaissance, she traveled abroad studying blackness, culminating a her best known work--Their Eyes Were Watching God--to which black men (based on their portrayals in her book), called her book a minstrel show made for white audiences

--an avid fighter for civil rights, her reputation was severely damaged when she was accused of molesting a 10 year old boy despite strong evidence that the accusation was false; she was also a fierce opponent of integration, criticizing the ruling of Brown vs. Board of Education

--due to her reputation and criticisms--despite numerous awards--she had trouble getting money for her works and essentially died in poverty--her body laid to rest in an unmarked grave

--more than a decade after her death, her works were revitalized and she once again received awards posthumously

--though her body was never actually found, she was given a marked grave and proper funeral

--based on the many works she wrote, she gave birth to the idea now known as intersectionality.

"If you are silent about your pain, they'll kill you and say you enjoyed it."

---Zora Neale Hurston


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