Courtesy of Library of Congress
Zora Neale Hurston, born in 1891, was a key figure of the black literary and cultural movement of the 1920s. She died in 1960 at age 69.
Zora Neale Hurston, born in 1891, was a key figure of the black literary and cultural movement of the 1920s. She died in 1960 at age 69. Courtesy of Library of Congress
February is Black History Month and Tell Me More observes the month with a series of short vignettes. In this installment, NPR's Emily Ochsenschlager shares her black history hero.
I'm Emily Ochsenschlager, assistant producer for Tell Me More, and one of the people in black history who I remember most is Zora Neale Hurston.
She was an author, folklorist, and anthropologist who is perhaps most famous for her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.
She was proud of where she grew up: Eatonville, Florida. It was one of the first all-black towns to be formed after the Emancipation Proclamation, and the first such community to become incorporated.
To this day, when I read her work I am instantly transported to the world she must have seen before her. I can feel the humid summer nights of Eatonville on the back of my neck. I can draw inspiration from the strong women she writes about — women I imagine to be a lot like the fiercely independent Hurston herself.
Armed with her notebook in hand, eyes and heart wide open, Hurston was ready to document life in words and ways rarely used before, and few have been able to replicate since.
Hurston herself once said, "there is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you."
Thankfully for us, hindsight is 20-20 and the stories inside Zora Neale Hurston are getting the recognition and readership they deserve.