Books by Zora Neale
Their Eyes Were
Watching God /
Mules and Men
Jonah’s Gourd Vine
My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica
Zora Neale Hurston : Novels and Stories
Tracks on a Road: An Autobiography
Alice Walker and Zora Neale Hurston: The Common Bond
* * *
Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)
Neale Hurston, folklorist and writer, became a central
figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Hurston was born and educated
in Eatonville, Florida, the first incorporated black city in the
United States. At the age of 16, she left her home to work with
a traveling theatrical company. The company ended up in New York
City , where Hurston studied anthropology at Columbia
University. She then attended Howard University as well as
1931, Hurston collaborated with Langston Hughes to write the
Mule Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life in Three Acts. She
wrote her most acclaimed work,
Their Eyes Were Watching God
in 1937. After writing her autobiography (Dust Tracks on a
Road) in 1942, she went on to teach at what is now North
Carolina Central University. Her work, revived by feminists in
the 1970s, has gained her considerable recognition as one of the
most important black writers in American history.
* * * *
7, 1891 – Hurston 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 school teacher. Though Hurston claimed as an adult that
she was born in
Eatonville, Florida in 1901,
she was actually born in
Notasulga, Alabama in 1891,
where her father grew up and her grandfather was the preacher of
a Baptist church. Her family moved to Eatonville, the
first all-Black town to be incorporated in the United States,
when she was three. Her father later became mayor of the town,
which Hurston would glorify in her stories as a place black
Americans could live as they desired, independent of white
society. Hurston spent the remainder of her childhood in
Eatonville, and describes the experience of growing up in
Eatonville in her 1928 essay "How It Feels to Be Colored Me."—Wikipedia
1917 – June 1918 – Attends Morgan Academy in Baltimore,
completing the high school
1918 – Works as a waitress in a nightclub and a manicurist
in a black-owned barber shop
that serves only whites.
– Attends Howard prep School, Washington, D.C.
Howard University; receives an associate degree in
– Publishes her first story “John Redding Goes to
Sea,” in the Stylus, the campus literary
1924 -- Publishes “Drenched in Light,” a short story, in
– Submits a story, “Spunk,” and a play Color Struck,
Opportunity’s literary contest. Both
win second-place awards;
publishes “Spunk” in the June number.
Barnard College, studying anthropology with
– begins field work for Boas in Harlem.
1926 – Organizes Fire! with
Langston Hughes and
Wallace Thurman; they publish only one
issue, in November 1926. The issue includes Hurston’s
1926 – Publishes “Muttsy” in
1926 – Publishes “Possum or Pig” in the Forum.
1926 – Publishes “The Eatonsville Anthology” in the
– Publishes The First One, a play, in
Ebony and Topaz.
1927 – Goes to Florida to collect folklore.
19, 1927 – Marries Herbert Sheen.
1927 – First visits Mrs. Rufus Osgood Mason, seeking
The third white woman, and
clearly the most important person for the next five years of
Hurston's life, was Mrs. Rufus Osgood Mason (Charlotte), a
socially prominent patron of the Negro arts. Hurston met Mrs.
Mason in September 1927; they signed a legal contract in
December of that year that assured Hurston
month plus the use of a car to travel to the South to begin a
serious collection of black folklore. A formal arrangement
lasted until the end of March 1931 and continued with irregular
payments until September 1932. The major downside of the
agreement for Hurston was that the collection was to become the
property of Mrs. Mason, with whom Hurston developed a spiritual
and psychic connection. Referred to as “godmother” by her
proteges, Mrs. Mason was a patron for a number of talented,
young, black writers and artists of the Harlem Renaissance—most
notably, Langston Hughes, whose relationship with her was also a
struggle against censorship and excessive dependence.—Enotes
1927 – Publishes an account of the black settlement at St.
Augustine, Florida, in the
of Negro History; also in this issue “Cudjo’s Own story
of the Last African Slaver.”
1927 -- Signs a contract with Mason, enabling her to return
to the South to collect
– satirized as “Sweetie Mae Carr” in
novel about the Harlem Renaissance
Infants of the Spring; receives a bachelor of arts degree
1928 – relations with Sheen break off
1928 – Publishes “How It feels to Be Colored Me” in
the World Tomorrow.
-- Organizes the field notes that become
Mules and Men.
1930 – Works on the play
Mule Bone with Langston
– Publishes “Hoodoo in America” in the
Journal of American
1931 – Breaks with Langston Hughes over the authorship of
7, 1931 – Divorces Sheen.
1931 – writes for a theatrical revue called Fast and
1932 – Writes and stages a theatrical revue called The
Great Day, first performed on
January 10 on Broadway at the
John Golden Theatre; works with the creative
literature department of
Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, to produce a concert
program of Negro music.
-- Writes “The Fiery Chariot.”
1933 – Stages From Sun to Sun (a version of Great Day) at
1933 – Publishes “The Gilded Six-Bits” in Story.
– Publishes six essays in
Nancy Cunard’s anthology,
1934 – Goes to Bethune-Cookman College to establish a
school of dramatic arts “based on
pure Negro expression.”
1934 – Publishes
Jonah’s Gourd Vine, originally
titled Big Nigger; it is a Book-of-the-Month
September 1934 – Publishes “The
Fire and the Cloud” in the Challenge.
November 1934 – Singing Steel (a
version of Great Day) performed in Chicago.
– Makes an abortive attempt to study for a Ph.D. in
anthropology at Columbia
University on a fellowship from the Rosenwald Foundation. In
fact, she seldom attends
August 1935 – Joins the WPA
Federal Theatre project as a “dramatic coach.”
October 1935 –
Mules and Men
March 1936 – Awarded a Guggenheim
Fellowship to study West Indian Obeah practices.
April –September 1936 – In
September-March 1937 – In Haiti;
Their Eyes Were Watching God in seven weeks.
May 1937 – Returns to Haiti on a
1937 – Returns to the United States;
Their Eyes Were Watching God published
February-March 1938 – Writes
My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica; it is published the same year.
April 1938 – Joins the Federal
Writer project in Florida to on
The Florida Negro.
. . . She travelled the state collecting stories for The
Florida Negro, which was eventually published in 1993 using
the original manuscripts.15 Hurston was also responsible for
writing the section on her hometown of Eatonville (one of the
first towns in the United States incorporated by
African-Americans, in 1886), and the guide quoted two long
excerpts from her 1937 novel
Their Eyes Were Watching God.—Broward
1939 – Publishes “Now Take
Noses” in Cordially Yours.
June 1939 – receives an honorary
Doctor of Letters degree from Morgan State College.
June 27, 1939 – marries Albert
Price III in Florida.
– Hired as a drama instructor by
North Carolina College for
Negroes at Durham;
meets Paul Green, professor of drama, at the University of North
November 1939 –
Moses, Man of
the Mountain published.
February 1940 – Files for divorce
from Price, though the two are reconciled briefly.
Summer 1940 – Makes a
folklore-collecting trip to South Carolina.
Spring-July 1941 – Writes
Tracks on a Road.
July 1941 – Publishes “Cock
Robin, Beale Street” in the Southern Literary Messenger.
October 1941-January 1942 –
Publishes “Story in Harlem Slang” in the
September 5, 1942 – Publishes a
profile of Lawrence Silas in the
Saturday Evening Post.
November 1942 --
Tracks on a Road published.
– Awarded the Anisfield-Wolf Book award in Race Relations for
Dust Tracks; on the
cover of the
March 1943 – Receives Howard
University’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
May 1943 – Publishes "The 'Pet
Negro' Syndrome” in the
June 1944 – Publishes “My Most
Humiliating Jim Crow Experience” in the
1945 – Writes "Mrs. Doctor" ; it is
rejected by Lippincott.
March 1945 – Publishes “The Rise
of the Begging Joints” in the
December 1945 – publishes “Crazy
for This Democracy” in the
Publishes a review of Robert Tallant’s
Voodoo in New
Orleans in the
Journal of American
– Goes to British Honduras to research black communities in
Central America; writes
Suwanee; stays in
Honduras until March
1948 – falsely accused of molesting a ten-year-old boy and
arrested; case finally
dismissed in March 1949.
Winter 1950-51 – Moves to Belle
June 1951 – Publishes “Why the
Negro Won’t Buy Communism” in the American Legion Magazine.
December 8, 1951 – publishes “A
Negro Votes Sizes Up Taft” in the
Saturday Evening Post.
1952 – Hired by the
Courier to cover the
Ruby McCollum case.
May 1956 – Receives an award for
“education and human relations” at
June 1956 – Works as a librarian
at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida; fired in 1957.
1957-59 – Writes a column on
“Hoodoo and Black Magic” for the Fort Pierce Chronicle.
1958 – Works as a substitute
teacher at Lincoln Park Academy, Force pierce.
Early 1959 – Suffers a stroke.
October 1959 – Forced to enter the
St. Lucie County Welfare Home.
1960 – Dies in the St. Lucie County Welfare Home of
“hypertension heart disease”;
buried in an unmarked grave in the Garden of Heavenly Rest, Fort
August 1973 – Alice Walker
discovers and marks Hurston’s grave.
March 1975 -- Walker publishes “In Search of
Zora Neale Hurston,” in Ms., launching a Hurston revival.
* * *
Zora Neale Hurston:
A Literary Biography
By Robert E.
Hemenway (Author) /
Foreword by Alice
child of the rural
each hour of her
life into something
and brimming with
her joy in just
the effervescence of
this daughter of the
in his brilliant and
provides for the
first time a full
length study of
Hurston's life and
and manuscripts and
with many who knew
Miss Hurston's life
details her two
relations with her
patron, Mrs. R.
Osgood Mason, her
mentor, Franz Boas,
and her friend
Langston Hughes; her
indictment on a
morals charge in
1948; and the sad,
final years leading
to her death as a
of a Florida welfare
home. But most
her art and
popular treatment of
underscores her deep
commitment to the
* * * *
Zora Hurston and The Strange Case Of Ruby McCollum
By C. Arthur
In 1952, the
Pittsburgh Courier hired Zora Neale Hurston to
cover the trial of
Ruby McCollum, a wealthy African-American wife
who shot and killed her white lover, a prominent
physician and recently elected state senator.
Hurston wrote that the story leading up to the
murder filled with a scandalous interracial affair,
drugs, and a fortune built on illicit gambling had
all the drama and varied play of human emotions that
fill the pages of great literature from Plutarch to
While covering the story,
Hurston recalled her work in the timber camps of
North Florida, where she had discovered the practice
of paramour rights. This unwritten law of the
antebellum South allowed a white man to take a
colored woman as his concubine and force her to have
Hurston expected the
upcoming trial of
McCollum to be an unprecedented forum for a Negress to
testify in her own defense after being forced, through paramour
rights, to bear a powerful white man s children. Eager to begin
her writing assignment, Hurston traveled to Live Oak, only to
find that presiding judge Hal W. Adams had issued a gag order
banning all but defense attorneys and close relatives from
visiting the defendant. When Hurston sought interviews with
locals during the course of this Kafkaesque trial, the entire
town white and black alike seemed complicit in what she called a
conspiracy of silence, operating behind a curtain of secrecy.
Hurston dug deep into the
case and eventually published her work as a series in the
Courier, but her account of the trial was limited to that
newspaper, and later publication in William B. Huie s book,
Ruby McCollum: Woman in the Suwannee Jail. Now, in this
richly illustrated volume, Hurston admirers can read the story
told through her voice, and see the people and places that she
* * *
Ida Cox (February 25, 1896 –
November 10, 1967) was an
vaudeville performer, best known for her
blues performances and
recordings. She was billed as "The
Uncrowned Queen of the Blues" Cox was born
in February, 1896 as Ida Prather in
Habersham County, Georgia (Toccoa was in
Habersham County, not yet
Stephens County at the time), the
daughter of Lamax and Susie (Knight)
Prather, and grew up in
Cedartown, Georgia, singing in the local
left home to tour with travelling
minstrel shows, often appearing in
blackface into the 1910s; she married
fellow minstrel performer Adler Cox. By
1920, she was appearing as a headline act at
the 81 Theatre in
Atlanta, Georgia; another headliner at
that time was
Jelly Roll Morton. . . .—Wikipedia
* * * * *
Ida Cox—Wild Women Don’t Have
Don’t Have the Blues
I hear these women raving 'bout their monkey
About their trifling husbands and their no
These poor women sit around all day and moan
Wondering why their wandering papa's don't
But wild women don't worry, wild women don't
have no blues
Now when you've got a man, don't never be on
'Cause if you do he'll have a woman
I never was known to treat no one man right
I keep 'em working hard both day and night
'Cause wild women don't worry, wild women
don't have their blues
I've got a disposition and a way of my own
When my man starts kicking I let him find
I get full of good liquor, walk the streets
Go home and put my man out if he don't act
Wild women don't worry, wild women don't
have their blues
You never get nothing by being an angel
You better change your ways and get real
I wanna tell you something, I wouldn't tell
you a lie
Wild women are the only kind that ever get
wild women don't worry, wild women don't
have their blues.
* * * * *
Video: "South Side Story"
Coates author of
The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to
discusses Michelle Obama with Paul Coates an outspoken publisher
and former Black Panther—his father.
When Michelle Obama told a
Milwaukee campaign rally last February, "For the first time in
my adult life, I am proud of my country," critics derided her as
another Angry Black Woman. But the only truly radical
proposition put forth by Obama, born and raised in Chicago's
storied South Side, is the idea of a black community fully
vested in the country at large, and proud of the American dream.—
“American Girl" (Ta Nehesi Coates)
* * *
* * * * *
The Warmth of Other Suns
The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
By Isabel Wilkerson
Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's
wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in
1937, after her cousin was falsely accused
of stealing a white man's turkeys and was
almost beaten to death. In 1945, George
Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled
Florida for Harlem after learning of the
grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie
party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing
Foster made his trek from Louisiana to
California in 1953, embittered by "the
absurdity that he was doing surgery for the
United States Army and couldn't operate in
his own home town." Anchored to these three
stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist
Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively
researched study of the "great migration,"
the exodus of six million black Southerners
out of the terror of Jim Crow to an
"uncertain existence" in the North and
Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates
sociological and historical studies into the
novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling,
and Pershing settling in new lands, building
anew, and often finding that they have not
left racism behind. The drama, poignancy,
and romance of a classic immigrant saga
pervade this book, hold the reader in its
grasp, and resonate long after the reading
* * * *
Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a
collection of fourteen essays by scholars and
creative writers from Africa and the Americas.
Called one of two significant critical works on
Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late
1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of
Carter G. Woodson and
Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as
well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations
were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early
essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish
medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an
historical context for understanding 20th-century
creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone
writers, such as Cuban
Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist,
Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the
significance of Negritude in Latin America. This
collaborative text set the tone for later
conferences in which writers and scholars worked
together to promote, disseminate, and critique the
literature of Spanish-speaking people of African
descent. . . .
Cited by a
literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the
field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which
most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
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updated 1 October 2007