Brown - Dark
Notasulga, Alabama, USA
Place of Death
Fort Pierce, Florida, USA
Cause of Death
Claim to Fame
American folklorist and author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance, best known for the 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Profile Bio Text
Background and career
Hurston was "purposefully inconsistent in the birth dates she dispensed during her lifetime, most of which were fictitious." For a long time, scholars believed that she was born in Eatonville, Florida in 1901.
In 1993, filmmaker Kristy Andersen established that Hurston had been born in Notasulga, Alabama and moved to Eatonville at a young age, spending her childhood there. It was Eatonville, the first all-Black town to be incorporated in the United States, that inspired her imagination.
Zora was the fifth of eight children of John Hurston and Lucy Ann Hurston (née Potts). Her father was a Baptist preacher, tenant farmer, and carpenter, and her mother was a schoolteacher. When she was three, Zora`s family moved to Eatonville, an all-Black town with a population of 125. Her father later became mayor of the town, which Zora would glorify in her stories as a place black Americans could live as they desired, independent of white society. Mrs. Hurston died in 1904 when Zora was 13. Zora was then "passed around the family like a bad penny"[attribution needed] by her father for the next several years.
College and anthropology
Hurston graduated from Morgan Academy, the high school division of Morgan College, in 1918. Later that year, she began her undergraduate studies at Howard University. While at Howard, Hurston became one of the earliest initiates of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and co-founded The Hilltop, the University`s student newspaper.. Hurston left Howard in 1924, unable to support herself.
Hurston was offered a scholarship to Barnard College where she received her B.A. in anthropology in 1927. While she was at Barnard, she conducted ethnographic research under her advisor, the noted anthropologist Franz Boas of Columbia University. She also worked with Ruth Benedict as well as fellow anthropology student Margaret Mead.
The Harlem Renaissance
In 1925, shortly before entering Barnard, Hurston became one of the leaders of the literary renaissance happening in Harlem, producing the short-lived literary magazine Fire!! along with Langston Hughes and Wallace Thurman. This literary movement became the center of the Harlem Renaissance.
Hurston applied her ethnographic training to document African American folklore in her critically acclaimed book Mules and Men (1935) along with fiction (Their Eyes Were Watching God) and dance, assembling a folk-based performance group that recreated her Southern tableau, with one performance on Broadway. Hurston was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to travel to Haiti and conduct research on conjure in 1937. Her work was significant because she was able to break into the secret societies and expose their use of drugs to create the Vodun trance, also a subject of study for fellow dancer/anthropologist Katherine Dunham who was then at the University of Chicago.
In 1954 Hurston was unable to sell her fiction but was assigned by the Pittsburgh Courier to cover the small-town murder trial of Ruby McCollum, the prosperous black wife of the local bolita racketeer, who had killed a racist white doctor. Hurston also contributed to Woman in the Suwanee County Jail, a book by journalist and civil rights advocate William Bradford Huie.
Morgan Academy, Howard University Prep School
Howard University, Washington, DC, Barnard College, Columbia University
Full Name at Birth
Zora Neale Hurston
Black, Green, Brown
Writer, Other Crew
Has Detailed Data (New)
Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891 – January 28, 1960) was an American folklorist, anthropologist, and author. Of Hurston's four novels and more than 50 published short stories, plays, and essays, she is best known for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.
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