January 7, 1981
Zora Neale Hurston was an influential member of the Harlem Renaissance. The author, folklorist, journalist and dramatist is best known for her novels, particularly “Their Eyes Were Watching God” published in 1937. Hurston, a complex and controversial figure, ardently promoted African-American culture. Her short stories, plays, and novels reflect her interest in anthropology and used material she collected while working on various funded expeditions around the South and in Haiti and Jamaica. Controversy surrounding Hurston begins with her birthplace, which most scholars believe is Notasulga, in east Alabama. She was born on this day, the fifth child of John Hurston and Lucy Potts Hurston. When she was 3, her family moved to Eatonville, Florida. Hurston said that Eatonville was “home” to her as she grew up in the community. Her father was elected as mayor of the town in 1897 and in 1902 became minister of its largest church, Macedonia Missionary Baptist.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
Alabama native Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) was a writer, folklorist and member of the Harlem Renaissance of the early 20th century. She is best known for her novels, such as “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” published in 1937. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Library of Congress)
“Their Eyes Were Watching God” is author Zora Neale Hurston’s best-known novel, published in 1937 and adapted for a television movie starring Halle Berry in 2005. The novel is set in Florida in the early 20th century and tells the story of an African-American woman’s quest for personal discovery. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama)
Zora Neale Hurston interviews musicians Rochelle French and Gabriel Brown in this 1935 photo by musicologist Alan Lomax, taken in Eatonville, Florida. That same year, Hurston published her study of southern African-American folklore, “Mules and Men.” (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Library of Congress)
In 1938, American photographer, critic and essayist Carl Van Vechten photographed Zora Neale Hurston in New York. Van Vechten also photographed Alabama native and novelist Truman Capote and many other notable figures in music, literature and art. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, Library of Congress)
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.