|Name:||Zora Neale Hurston|
|Birth Day:||January 7, 1891|
|Death Date:||January 28, 1960(1960-01-28) (aged 69)
Fort Pierce, Florida, U.S.
|Birth Place:||Notasulga, United States|
As per our current Database, Zora Neale Hurston died on January 28, 1960(1960-01-28) (aged 69)
Fort Pierce, Florida, U.S..
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Hurston was the fifth of eight children of John Hurston and Lucy Ann Hurston (née Potts). All of her four grandparents had been born into slavery. Her father was a Baptist preacher and sharecropper, who later became a carpenter, and her mother was a school teacher. She was born in Notasulga, Alabama, on January 7, 1891, where her father grew up and her paternal grandfather was the preacher of a Baptist church.
As an adult, Hurston often used Eatonville as a setting in her stories—it was a place where African Americans could live as they desired, independent of white society. In 1901, some northern schoolteachers had visited Eatonville and given Hurston a number of books that opened her mind to literature. She later described this personal literary awakening as a kind of "birth". Hurston lived for the rest of her childhood in Eatonville and described the experience of growing up there in her 1928 essay, "How It Feels To Be Colored Me".
Hurston's mother died in 1904, and her father subsequently married Mattie Moge in 1905. This was considered scandalous, as it was rumored that he had had sexual relations with Moge before his first wife's death. Hurston's father and stepmother sent her to a Baptist boarding school in Jacksonville, Florida. They eventually stopped paying her tuition and she was dismissed.
In 1916, Hurston was employed as a maid by the lead singer of the Gilbert & Sullivan theatrical company.
In 1917, she resumed her formal education, attending Morgan College, the high school division of Morgan State University, a historically black college in Baltimore, Maryland. At this time, apparently to qualify for a free high-school education, the 26-year-old Hurston began claiming 1901 as her year of birth. She graduated from the high school of Morgan State University in 1918.
In 1918, Hurston began her studies at Howard University, a historically black college in Washington, DC. She was one of the earliest initiates of Zeta Phi Beta sorority, founded by and for black women, and co-founded The Hilltop, the university's student newspaper. She took courses in Spanish, English, Greek, and public speaking and earned an associate degree in 1920. In 1921, she wrote a short story, "John Redding Goes to Sea", which qualified her to become a member of Alain Locke's literary club, The Stylus.
Hurston left Howard in 1924, and in 1925 was offered a scholarship by Barnard trustee Annie Nathan Meyer to Barnard College of Columbia University, a women's college, where she was the sole black student. While she was at Barnard, she conducted ethnographic research with noted anthropologist Franz Boas of Columbia University, and later studied with him as a graduate student. She also worked with Ruth Benedict and fellow anthropology student Margaret Mead. Hurston received her B.A. in anthropology in 1928, when she was 37.
When Hurston arrived in New York City in 1925, the Harlem Renaissance was at its zenith, and she soon became one of the writers at its center. Shortly before she entered Barnard, Hurston's short story "Spunk" was selected for The New Negro, a landmark anthology of fiction, poetry, and essays focusing on African and African-American art and literature. In 1926, a group of young black writers including Hurston, Langston Hughes, and Wallace Thurman, calling themselves the Niggerati, produced a literary magazine called Fire!! that featured many of the young artists and writers of the Harlem Renaissance.
In 1927, Hurston married Herbert Sheen, a jazz musician and a former teacher at Howard; he later became a physician. Their marriage ended in 1931. In 1935, Hurston was involved with Percy Punter, a graduate student at Columbia University. He inspired the character of Tea Cake in Their Eyes Were Watching God.
In 1927, Hurston traveled to the Deep South to collect African-American folk tales. She also interviewed Cudjoe Kazzola Lewis, of Africatown, Alabama, who was the last known survivor of the enslaved Africans carried aboard Clotilda, an illegal slave ship that had entered the US in 1860, and thus the last known person to have been transported in the Transatlantic slave trade. The next year she published the article "Cudjoe's Own Story of the Last African Slaver" (1928). According to her biographer Robert E. Hemenway, this piece largely plagiarized the work of Emma Langdon Roche, an Alabama writer who wrote about Lewis in a 1914 book. Hurston did add new information about daily life in Lewis' home village of Bantè.
In 1928, Hurston returned to Alabama with additional resources; she conducted more interviews of Lewis, took photographs of him and others in the community, and recorded the only known film footage of him – an African who had been trafficked to the United States through the slave trade. Based on this material, she wrote a manuscript, Barracoon, completing it in 1931. Hemenway described as "a highly dramatic, semifictionalized narrative intended for the popular reader." It has also been described as a "testimonial text", more in the style of other anthropological studies since the late 20th century.
Hurston twice lived in a cottage in Eau Gallie, Florida: in 1929 and again in 1951.
In 1929, Hurston moved to Eau Gallie, Florida, where she wrote Mules and Men. It was published in 1935.
By the mid-1930s, Hurston had published several short stories and the critically acclaimed Mules and Men (1935), a groundbreaking work of "literary anthropology" documenting African-American folklore from timber camps in North Florida. In 1930, she collaborated with Langston Hughes on Mule Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life, a play that they never staged. Their collaboration caused their friendship to fall apart. The play was first staged in 1991.
Hurston adapted her anthropological work for the performing arts. Her folk revue, The Great Day, featured authentic African song and dance, and premiered at the John Golden Theatre in New York in January 1932. Despite positive reviews, it had only one performance. The Broadway debut left Hurston in $600 worth of debt. No producers wanted to move forward with a full run of the show.
In 1934, Hurston established a school of dramatic arts "based on pure Negro expression" at Bethune-Cookman University (at the time, Bethune-Cookman College), a historically black college in Daytona Beach, Florida. In 1956 Hurston received the Bethune-Cookman College Award for Education and Human Relations in recognition of her achievements. The English Department at Bethune-Cookman College remains dedicated to preserving her cultural legacy.
Hurston traveled extensively in the Caribbean and the American South and immersed herself in local cultural practices to conduct her anthropological research. Based on her work in the South, sponsored from 1928 to 1932 by Charlotte Osgood Mason, a wealthy philanthropist, Hurston wrote Mules and Men in 1935. She was doing research in lumber camps in north Florida and commented on the practice of white men in power taking black women as sexual concubines, including having them bear children. This practice later was referred to as "paramour rights," based in the men's power under racial segregation and related to practices during slavery times. The book also includes much folklore. Hurston drew from this material as well in the fictional treatment she developed for her novels such as Jonah's Gourd Vine (1934).
In 1935, Hurston traveled to Georgia and Florida with Alan Lomax and Mary Elizabeth Barnicle for research on African American song traditions and their relationship to slave and African antecedent music. She was tasked with selecting the geographic areas and contacting the research subjects.
In 1936 and 1937, Hurston traveled to Jamaica and Haiti for research, with support from the Guggenheim Foundation. She drew from this research for her anthropological work, Tell My Horse (1938).
In 1937, Hurston was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to conduct ethnographic research in Jamaica and Haiti. Tell My Horse (1938) documents her account of her fieldwork studying spiritual and cultural rituals in Jamaica and vodoun in Haiti.
In 1938 and 1939, Hurston worked for the Federal Writer's Project (FWP), part of the Works Progress Administration. Hired for her experience as a writer and folklorist, she gathered information to add to Florida's historical and cultural collection.
In 1939, while Hurston was working for the WPA in Florida, she married Albert Price. The marriage ended after few months, but they did not divorce until 1943. The following year, Hurston married James Howell Pitts of Cleveland. That marriage, too, lasted less than a year.
Other authors criticized Hurston for her sensationalist representation of voodoo. In The Crisis magazine in 1943, Harold Preece criticized Hurston for her perpetuation of "Negro primitivism" in order to advance her own literary career. The Journal of Negro History complained that her work on voodoo was an indictment of African-American ignorance and superstition.
From October 1947 to February 1948, Hurston lived in Honduras, at the north coastal town of Puerto Cortés. She had some hopes of locating either Mayan ruins or vestiges of an as yet undiscovered civilization. While in Puerto Cortés, she wrote much of Seraph on the Suwanee, set in Florida. Hurston expressed interest in the polyethnic nature of the population in the region (many, such as the Miskito Zambu and Garifuna, were of partial African ancestry and had developed creole cultures).
In the 1940s, Hurston's work was published in such periodicals as The American Mercury and The Saturday Evening Post. Her last published novel, Seraph on the Suwanee, notable principally for its focus on white characters, was published in 1948. It explores images of "white trash" women. Jackson (2000) argues that Hurston's meditation on abjection, waste, and the construction of class and gender identities among poor whites reflects the eugenics discourses of the 1920s.
Hurston, who was a conservative, was on the other side of the disputes over the promise of left-wing politics for African-Americans. In 1951, for example, Hurston argued that New Deal economic support had created a harmful dependency by African Americans on the government and that this dependency ceded too much power to politicians.
In 1952, Hurston 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. She also contributed to Ruby McCollum: Woman in the Suwannee Jail (1956), a book by journalist and civil rights advocate William Bradford Huie.
In 1952, Hurston supported the presidential campaign of Senator Robert A. Taft. Like Taft, Hurston was against Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal policies. She also shared his opposition to Roosevelt and Truman's interventionist foreign policy. In the original draft of her autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road, Hurston compared the United States government to a "fence" in stolen goods and to a Mafia-like protection racket. Hurston thought it ironic that the same "people who claim that it is a noble thing to die for freedom and democracy… wax frothy if anyone points out the inconsistency of their morals… We, too, consider machine gun bullets good laxatives for heathens who get constipated with toxic ideas about a country of their own." She was scathing about those who sought "freedoms" for those abroad but denied it to people in their home countries: Roosevelt "can call names across an ocean" for his Four Freedoms, but he did not have "the courage to speak even softly at home." When Truman dropped the atomic bombs on Japan she called him "the Butcher of Asia."
Upon reaching Live Oak, Hurston was surprised not only by the gag order the judge in the trial placed on the defense but by her inability to get residents in town to talk about the case; both blacks and whites were silent. She believed that might have been related to Dr. Adams' alleged involvement in the gambling operation of Ruby's husband Sam McCollum. Her articles were published by the newspaper during the trial. Ruby McCollum was convicted by an all-male, all-white jury, and sentenced to death. Hurston had a special assignment to write a serialized account, The Life Story of Ruby McCollum, over three months in 1953 in the newspaper. Her part was ended abruptly when she and Nunn disagreed about her pay, and she left.
Hurston opposed the Supreme Court ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education case of 1954. She felt that if separate schools were truly equal (and she believed that they were rapidly becoming so), educating black students in physical proximity to white students would not result in better education. In addition, she worried about the demise of black schools and black teachers as a way to pass on cultural tradition to future generations of African Americans. She voiced this opposition in a letter, "Court Order Can't Make the Races Mix", that was published in the Orlando Sentinel in August 1955. Hurston had not reversed her long-time opposition to segregation. Rather, she feared that the Court's ruling could become a precedent for an all-powerful federal government to undermine individual liberty on a broad range of issues in the future. Hurston also opposed preferential treatment for African-Americans, saying:
Among other positions, Hurston later worked at the Pan American World Airways Technical Library at Patrick Air Force Base in 1957. She was fired for being "too well-educated" for her job.
Despite increasing difficulties, Hurston maintained her independence and a determined optimism. She wrote in a 1957 letter:
During a period of financial and medical difficulties, Hurston was forced to enter St. Lucie County Welfare Home, where she suffered a stroke. She died of hypertensive heart disease on January 28, 1960, and was buried at the Garden of Heavenly Rest in Fort Pierce, Florida. Her remains were in an unmarked grave until 1973. Novelist Alice Walker and fellow Hurston scholar Charlotte D. Hunt found an unmarked grave in the general area where Hurston had been buried; they decided to mark it as hers. Walker commissioned a gray marker inscribed with "ZORA NEALE HURSTON / A GENIUS OF THE SOUTH / NOVELIST FOLKLORIST / ANTHROPOLOGIST / 1901–1960." The line "a genius of the south" is from Jean Toomer's poem, Georgia Dusk, which appears in his book Cane. Hurston was born in 1891, not 1901.
After Hurston died, her papers were ordered to be burned. A law officer and friend, Patrick DuVal, passing by the house where she had lived, stopped and put out the fire, thus saving an invaluable collection of literary documents for posterity. The nucleus of this collection was given to the University of Florida libraries in 1961 by Mrs. Marjorie Silver, a friend, and neighbor of Hurston. Other materials were donated in 1970 and 1971 by Frances Grover, daughter of E. O. Grover, a Rollins College professor and long-time friend of Hurston's. In 1979, Stetson Kennedy of Jacksonville, who knew Hurston through his work with the Federal Writers Project, added additional papers (Zora Neale Hurston Papers, University of Florida Smathers Libraries, August 2008).
Darwin Turner, an English professor and specialist in African-American literature, faulted Hurston in 1971 for opposing integration and for opposing programs to guarantee blacks the right to work. Even though criticized, Hurston appeared to oppose integration based on pride and her sense of independence. She would not "bow low before the white man," and claimed "adequate Negro schools" already existed in 1955. Hurston is described as a "trailblazer for black women's empowerment" because of her numerous individual achievements and her strong belief that black women could be "self-made." However, a common criticism of her work is that the vagueness of her racial politics in her writing, particularly pertaining to black feminism, make her "a prime candidate for white intellectual idolatry."
Hurston intended to publish a collection of several hundred folk tales from her field studies in the South. She wanted to have them be as close to the original as possible, but struggled to balance the expectations of her academic adviser, Franz Boas, and her patron, Charlotte Osgood Mason. This manuscript was not published at the time. A copy was later found at the Smithsonian archives among the papers of anthropologist William Duncan Strong, a friend of Boas. Hurston's Negro Folk-tales from the Gulf States was published posthumously in 2001 as Every Tongue Got to Confess.
In 2008, The Library of America selected excerpts from Ruby McCollum: Woman in the Suwannee Jail (1956), to which Hurston had contributed, for inclusion in its two-century retrospective of American true crime writing.
After this round of interviews, Hurston's literary patron, philanthropist Charlotte Osgood Mason, learned of Lewis and began to send him money for his support. Lewis was also interviewed by journalists for local and national publications. Hurston's manuscript Barracoon was eventually published posthumously on May 8, 2018. "Barracoon", or barracks in Spanish, is where captured Africans were temporarily imprisoned before being shipped abroad.
Hurston's nonfiction book Barracoon was published in 2018. A barracoon is a type of barracks where slaves were imprisoned before being taken overseas.
Currently, Zora Neale Hurston is 131 years, 7 months and 8 days old. Zora Neale Hurston will celebrate 132nd birthday on a Saturday 7th of January 2023.
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