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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

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 I regard the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court as insulting rather than honoring my race. Since the days

of the never-to-be-sufficiently deplored Reconstruction, there has been current the belief that there

is no greater delight to Negroes than physical association with whites.

 

 

Books by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God / Mules and Men  / Jonah’s Gourd Vine / Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica

Zora Neale Hurston : Novels and Stories / Dust Tracks on a Road: An Autobiography

Alice Walker and Zora Neale Hurston: The Common Bond

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Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)

A Bio-Chronology

 

Zora 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 Barnard College.

In 1931, Hurston collaborated with Langston Hughes to write the play 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.

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January 7, 1891Hurston 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 

 

September 1917 – June 1918 – Attends Morgan Academy in Baltimore, completing the high school requirements.

 

Summer 1918 – Works as a waitress in a nightclub and a manicurist in a black-owned barber shop that serves only whites.

 

1918-1919 – Attends Howard prep School, Washington, D.C.

1919-1924 – Attends Howard University; receives an associate degree in 1920.

1921 – Publishes her first story “John Redding Goes to Sea,” in the Stylus, the campus literary society’s magazine.

 

December 1924 -- Publishes “Drenched in Light,” a short story, in Opportunity.

1925 – Submits a story, “Spunk,” and a play Color Struck, to Opportunity’s literary contest. Both win second-place awards; publishes “Spunk” in the June number.

1925-27 – attends Barnard College, studying anthropology with Franz Boas.

1926 – begins field work for Boas in Harlem.

Summer 1926 – Organizes Fire! with Langston Hughes and Wallace Thurman; they publish only one issue, in November 1926. The issue includes Hurston’s “Sweat.”

 

August 1926 – Publishes “Muttsy” in Opportunity.

September 1926 – Publishes “Possum or Pig” in the Forum.

September-November 1926 – Publishes “The Eatonsville Anthology” in the Messenger.

1927 – Publishes The First One, a play, in Charles S. Johnson’s Ebony and Topaz.

February 1927 – Goes to Florida to collect folklore.

May 19, 1927 – Marries Herbert Sheen.

September 1927 – First visits Mrs. Rufus Osgood Mason, seeking patronage.

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 200 each 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

October 1927 – Publishes an account of the black settlement at St. Augustine, Florida, in the Journal of Negro History; also in this issue “Cudjo’s Own story of the Last African Slaver.”

 

December 1927 -- Signs a contract with Mason, enabling her to return to the South to collect folklore.

 

1928 – satirized as “Sweetie Mae Carr” in Wallace Thurman’s novel about the Harlem Renaissance Infants of the Spring; receives a bachelor of arts degree from Barnard.

 

January 1928 – relations with Sheen break off

May 1928 – Publishes “How It feels to Be Colored Me” in the World Tomorrow.

1930-32 -- Organizes the field notes that become Mules and Men.

May-June 1930 – Works on the play Mule Bone with Langston Hughes.

1931 – Publishes “Hoodoo in America” in the Journal of American Folklore.

February 1931 – Breaks with Langston Hughes over the authorship of Mule Bone.

July 7, 1931 – Divorces Sheen.

September 1931 – writes for a theatrical revue called Fast and Furious.

January 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.

1933 -- Writes “The Fiery Chariot.”

January 1933 – Stages From Sun to Sun (a version of Great Day) at Rollins College.

August 1933 – Publishes “The Gilded Six-Bits” in Story.

1934 – Publishes six essays in Nancy Cunard’s anthology, Negro.

January 1934 – Goes to Bethune-Cookman College to establish a school of dramatic arts “based on

                         pure Negro expression.”

May 1934 – Publishes Jonah’s Gourd Vine, originally titled Big Nigger; it is a Book-of-the-Month Club selection.

 

September 1934 – Publishes “The Fire and the Cloud” in the Challenge.

November 1934Singing Steel (a version of Great Day) performed in Chicago.

January 1935 – 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 classes.

 

August 1935 – Joins the WPA Federal Theatre project as a “dramatic coach.”

October 1935 Mules and Men published.

March 1936 – Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to study West Indian Obeah practices.

April –September 1936 – In Jamaica.

September-March 1937 – In Haiti; writes Their Eyes Were Watching God in seven weeks.

May 1937 – Returns to Haiti on a renewed Guggenheim.

September 1937 – Returns to the United States; Their Eyes Were Watching God published September 18.

 

February-March 1938 – Writes Tell 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.

Summer 1939 – Hired as a drama instructor by North Carolina College for Negroes at Durham; meets Paul Green, professor of drama, at the University of North Carolina.

 

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 Dust 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 American Mercury.

September 5, 1942 – Publishes a profile of Lawrence Silas in the Saturday Evening Post.

November 1942 -- Dust Tracks on a Road published.

February 1943 – Awarded the Anisfield-Wolf Book award in Race Relations for Dust Tracks; on the cover of the Saturday Review.

 

March 1943 – Receives Howard University’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

May 1943 – Publishes "The 'Pet Negro' Syndrome” in the American Mercury.

June 1944 – Publishes “My Most Humiliating Jim Crow Experience” in the Negro Digest.

1945 – Writes "Mrs. Doctor" ; it is rejected by Lippincott.

March 1945 – Publishes “The Rise of the Begging Joints” in the American Mercury.

December 1945 – publishes “Crazy for This Democracy” in the Negro Digest.

1947 – Publishes a review of Robert Tallant’s Voodoo in New Orleans in the Journal of American Folklore.

 

May 1947 – Goes to British Honduras to research black communities in Central America; writes Seraph on Suwanee; stays in Honduras until March 1948.

 

September 1948 – falsely accused of molesting a ten-year-old boy and arrested; case finally dismissed in March 1949.

 

 

October 1948 Seraph on Suwanee published.

March 1950 – Publishes “Conscience of the Court” in the Saturday Evening Post, while working as a maid in Rivo Island, Florida. 

April 1950 -- Publishes “What White Publishers Won’t Print” in the Saturday Evening Post.

November 1950 – Publishes “I Saw Negro Votes Peddled” in the American Legion Magazine.

 

Winter 1950-51 – Moves to Belle Glade, Florida.

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 Pittsburgh Courier to cover the Ruby McCollum case.

May 1956 – Receives an award for “education and human relations” at Bethune-Cookman College.

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.

January 28, 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 Pierce.

 

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.

 

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Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Biography

By Robert E. Hemenway (Author) / Foreword by Alice Walker

 

Zora Neale Hurston—novelist, folklorist, anthropologist, and child of the rural black South—transformed each hour of her life into something bubbling, exuberant, and brimming with her joy in just being. Robert Hemenway captures the effervescence of this daughter of the Harlem Renaissance in his brilliant and original literary biography. He provides for the first time a full length study of Hurston's life and art, using unpublished letters and manuscripts and personal interviews with many who knew her.

His sensitive reconstruction of Miss Hurston's life  details her two marriages, her 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 penniless occupant of a Florida welfare home. But most important, his interpretation of her art and scholarship, including her extraordinary novels, autobiography, and popular treatment of black folkways, underscores her deep and abiding commitment to the black folk tradition.

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Zora Hurston and The Strange Case Of Ruby McCollum

By C. Arthur Ellis, Jr.

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 Shakespeare.

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 his children.

Hurston expected the upcoming trial of Ruby 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 saw.

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Ida Cox (February 25, 1896 – November 10, 1967) was an African American singer and 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 Toccoa, 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 African Methodist Church choir.

She 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

 

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Ida Cox—Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues

 

Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues
                                      

                                            By Ida Cox


I hear these women raving 'bout their monkey men
About their trifling husbands and their no good friends
These poor women sit around all day and moan
Wondering why their wandering papa's don't come home
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 the square
'Cause if you do he'll have a woman everywhere
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 another home
I get full of good liquor, walk the streets all night
Go home and put my man out if he don't act right
Wild women don't worry, wild women don't have their blues

You never get nothing by being an angel child
You better change your ways and get real wild
I wanna tell you something, I wouldn't tell you a lie
Wild women are the only kind that ever get by
wild women don't worry, wild women don't have their blues.

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Video: "South Side Story" Ta-Nehisi Coates author of The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood 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)

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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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 is done.

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

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, and scholar 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'."

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

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.     

Professor Perry 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 Caucasian babies.

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 indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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Related files:  Zora Neale Hurston Chronology   The Black Joan of Arc   Court Order Can't Make Races Mix    What White Publishers Won't Print    The Characteristics of Negro Expression   zora smiles  

zora smiles 2    Zora Neale Hurston Choreographer   Which U.S. Presidents Owned Slaves?