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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now another in our series of Black History Month salutes.

We've invited members of the TELL ME MORE staff, some of our guests and our NPR colleagues to share stories about the figure or event from black history that they most admire. Today, one of our own writer/producers on one of her favorite writers.

EMILY OCHSENSCHLAGER: 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 was 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'm instantly transported to the world she must've 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, Zora Neale 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.

MARTIN: That was Emily Ochsenschlager, assistant producer for TELL ME MORE, paying tribute to author Zora Neale Hurston. To browse the full series of TELL ME MORE Black History Month essays, log on to NPR.org and in the search field type black history heroes.

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