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Zora Neale

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The list of words accurately describing the 30 year career of Zora Neale Hurston includes anthropologist, dramatist, essayist, folklorist, novelist, short story writer and autobiographer.

The early life of Zora Neale Hurston has been shrouded in mystery with the majority of biographical accounts list the year of her birth as 1901, some list it as 1903 and in recent years 1891. For many years, her birth place was said to have been Eatonville, Florida, however, recent evidence has placed it to be Notasulga, Alabama.

One of eight children, Zora Neale Hurston and her family moved to Eatonville when she was 3. Eatonville was incorporated in 1886 as the first self- governed all black city in America. Her mother, Lucy died when Zora was a child, but she encouraged her to "jump at de sun. You might not land on the sun but at least you'll get off the ground."

Upon reaching adulthood in 1917, she enrolled in Morgan Academy, which was the high school division of Morgan College, (now Morgan State University). She was 26 years old but listed her age as 16. From there, in 1918, she went on to Howard where she received an associate's degree. There she took classes until 1924. She secured a scholarship which allowed her to transfer to Bernard College, where she was the first black student. There she received her B.A. in 1928.

From 1928 to 1932, she studied anthropology and folklore at Columbia University. In 1936, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for traveling and collecting folklore in Haiti and the British West Indies.

Zora was married twice. The first husband was Herbert Sheen in 1927. They divorced in 1931. As Sheen later told Hurston's biographer, Hemeway, "the marriage was doomed to an early, amicable divorce" because Hurston's career was her first priority. Her second marriage was to Albert Price III in 1939 and they divorced in 1943. Price contends that he feared for his life because Hurston had threatened "to fix him" with voodoo if he "would not perform her wishes." She wrote about her experiences with the hoodoo culture in New Orleans. In some cases, she apprenticed herself to local hoodoo doctors and was able to learn several "spells."

Zora Neale Hurston in arrived in New York in 1925 and immediately became involved with the Harlem Renaissance, the black literary and cultural movement of the1920's. She was a talented writer who would celebrate that culture through her art. She is said to have personified the movement and was dubbed the "Queen of the Renaissance." She was, however, criticized because she failed to address the subject of racism. She viewed the world from the perspective of Eatonville, a place where blacks could be sovereign from all of white society, even segregation. She insisted on being herself at a time when blacks were being urged to assimilate in an effort to promote better relations between blacks and whites. Her reply to her critics was "I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul nor lurking behind my eyes. ...... I did not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a low down dirty deal and feelings are all hurt about it... no, I did not weep at the world - I am too busy



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