Zora Neale Hurston - Celebrating the Culture of Black Americans

Powerful Essays
Zora Neale Hurston - Celebrating the Culture of Black Americans

In her life and in her writings, Zora Neale Hurston, with the South and its traditions as her backdrop, celebrated the culture of black Americans, Negro love and pride with a feminine perspective that was uncommon and untapped in her time. While Hurston can be considered one of the greats of African-American literature, it’s only recently that interest in her has been revived after decades of neglect (Peacock 335). Sadly, Hurston’s life and Hurston’s writing didn’t receive notoriety until after her death in 1960.

Hurston’s upbringing was pivotal in her unique sense of identity and

culture. “Born in 1891, Hurston spent much of her childhood in Eatonville,

Florida” (Boyd 28). Hurston was born and raised in the first incorporated black

township in the United States. “Eatonville provided her with a sense of identity

and emotional health rare for a black American growing up at the turn of the

century” (Boyd 28). In the video Tell About the South, Hurston stated she lived

not in “the black back-side of an average town but a pure Negro town—charter,

mayor, council, town marshal and all.”

As a child, Hurston was sheltered from the realities of discrimination and

hatred against blacks. Author Mary E. Lyons explains: “Eatonville residents were

somewhat safe from lynchings and other racial violence, although Zora recalled

that the village did its best to teach her fear of white strangers” (11). Zora’s

childhood was filled with thriving community as well as isolation from the hatred and racism that lurked outside of the confines of Eatonville. “[Zora’s] early childhood was so free from discrimination that it took a trip to Jacksonville, with its...

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...oman and Her Community. Orlando, FL:

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Contemporary Authors, 1999: 334-37.

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1992, 543-47.

Tell About the South. Dir. Ross Spears. James Agee Film Project.

The Student Bible: New International Version. Michigan: Zondervan Corporation,


Washington, Booker T. “Atlanta Exposition Address.” Making Literature Matter: An

Anthology for Readers and Writers. Ed. John Schilb and John Clifford:

Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000. May 1990. 948-51.

Witcover, Paul. Zora Neale Hurston. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1991.

“Zora Neale Hurston-The School District of Palm Beach County, Florida”
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