We always hear about these amazing leaders in this time period or this fantastic era, but we always miss out on the people who made a difference and day by day… their names fade in the sea of water that one pure, has now become brine. A woman who had something to say when times were against her will, a woman who did not let the “impossible” stop her from trying. Her name was Zora Neale Hurston. She was a Folklorist, anthropologist, novelist, short story writer, and a filmmaker. Before her name is forgotten as time passes by, let me tell you who this woman was and what she did that affects us today without knowing.
Zora Neale Hurston was born on January 7,1891. She was born in a town in Alabama, however, she was just a toddler when her family decided to move to Eatonville, Florida. Zora grew up in a culturally affirming household in an eight room house on five acres of land. Her relationship with her father was not too well, but her mother was a whole different story. Her mother was always so supportive and encouraging, “jump at de sun” her mother would say to Zora and her seven other siblings. I’m sure that is where Zora gets her optimistic attitude from. As time passed by, Zora had attended three colleges in her lifetime. She never waited before continuing to study.
Zora was a free spirited and brave woman in every way possible. She had a one of a kind intellect and had an admirable sense of humor. She would always say she was 10 years younger than she actually was, but she would always pull off her sneaky lies because she was a beautiful woman. Her eyes were heartwarming, cheerful, and confident. She had high cheekbones, as well as a full and graceful mouth. Her face was always speaking for her as she always displayed her emotions through her facials. She was a character full of life and full of curiosity. Zora used these talents and characteristics to push her way into the “Jazz Age” in the 1920s.
Zora’s career spanned over 30 years when she started her career in 1935. Her first work was a folktale called “Mules and Men”, this folktale was published in 1935 and was regarded as “one of the best works on folklore and culture of the blacks”. Zora was the first to research folklore at the level she did, she was a professional. Most of her work focuses on issues during her time period, most common problem of all was racism. She had no problem saying her opinion and talking about her ways of living life, “I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions”. She was mostly known for her intelligence, irreverence, and unique writing style. She was brave and had achieved fame and success in her lifetime, but she also went through times of shame and being forgotten by others.
Haven gone through that, she still got back up on her two feet and kept going. Zora had contributed to the acceptance of African Americans in America through her writings. She celebrated her black rural culture and heritage in a time where her people were ashamed and would try to deny or forget it who they really were. Near her passing date, she was aware that she had no money to afford a headstone for herself. Feeling left out, she wrote an argument to defend her people from being forgotten and left behind in segregated cemeteries that would be abandoned. She wrote, “Let no negro celebrity, no matter what financial condition they might be in at death, lie in inconspicuous forgetfulness. We must assume the responsibility of their graves being known and honored.” She also fought back to a decision by the Brown V. Board to federally mandated integration. She responded, “no tragedy in being too dark to be invited to a white school social affair.” This controversy is actually a topic that is still discussed till this very day.
Zora as well as supporting her people, she also supported her gender. Zora was a support to women’s rights and their personal choices. In her most successful novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God”, a character named Janie was married to a man who treated her as nothing but property. However, Janie decided to decided to ignore society’s expectations and chooses to appreciate and love herself instead. Janie got married three times in her lifetime and ends up losing her third husband. Janie was said to be “alone”, but not “lonely”. Zora had made this character as a woman who was finding herself and what she truly wanted. Janie was a confident character that never had enough of herself. Thanks to the support of feminist writers like Alice Walker, Zora’s work had come to light once again.
In conclusion, Zora Neale Hurston is a symbol and inspiration that showed that when trying to fight for your rights, your freedom, and acceptance in society… They’re many ways to speak up and present your arguments into a sensitive and critical world. She tried her best and succeeded in bringing a powerful debate in the civil rights movement. She was an average girl in a time of racial segregation who was not afraid to be herself and defend her people against the show that blinds many till this day. An inspiration and a symbol of hope and acceptance forever, Zora Neale Hurston.
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