Shoulders We Stand On- Zora Neal Hurston

29 03 2009

Shoulders We Stand On is  info about women who have paved the way so we can be where we are today.

zora-neale-hurston_sWho she is: a 20th century writer of Black literature; she is closely associated with the Harlem Renaissance and has influenced other Black writers like Alice Walker and Toni Morrison.

How she paved the way: Born on January 7, 1981 in Alabama, Hurston became the most important and successful black woman during the first half of the 20th century.

Hurston’s family moved to Eatonville, FL when she was a toddler. Luckily grew up around Black achievement all her life, so she didn’t have to feel inferior like many other Blacks in her time.

 Her mother passed away when she was thirteen, and Hurston worked menial jobs and joined a traveling troup as a maid until she ended up in Baltimore. It was then she decided she wanted to finish her high school education. Small problem- Hurston was then 26 and didn’t qualify for free public schooling. What’s a girl to do? Take 10 years off of her age, making her 16. It worked.

She ended up graduating from Barnard College and had written several works. However, Hurston didn’t receive the financial compensation she deserved. The biggest royalty she earned from her books was $943.75. Hurston received so little that her neighbors had to take up a collection when she died; however, they didn’t even receive enough money to purchase a headstone, so her grave was unmarked until 1973. [She finally got one by Alice Walker].

Her epitaph reads: Zora Neale Hurston: A Genius of the South.

Hurston’s works includes:

  • Jonah’s Gourd Vine
  • Mules and Men
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • Tell My Horse
  • Moses, Man of the Mountain
  • Dust Tracks on a Road
  • Seraph on the Suwanee





One response

2 04 2009
C. Arthur Ellis, Jr., Ph.D.

While most Hurston lovers have read Their Eyes Were Watching God, few have read her coverage of a famous 1952 murder trial that she covered for the Pittsburgh Courier. In Hurston’s own words, this trial of a wealth “colored” woman for her white physician and recent Florida senator-elect, was “filled with all the drama and human emotion that fills the pages of great literature from Plutarch to Shakespeare.” Pretty heady stuff!

My recent publication, reviewed by Booklist (American Library Association) and Midwest Book Review, is entitled Zora Hurston And The Strange Case Of Ruby McCollum. Reviews are posted on Amazon, and a book video trailer is on Youtube, to be found by searching “Zora Hurston” and clicking on the thumbnail of a bronze skinned woman with a white man’s hand reaching into her blouse.

Enjoy a sample of the book on Amazon’s “search inside” feature.

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