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From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zora_Neale_Hurston
Background and career
Hurston was "purposefully inconsistent in the birth dates she dispensed during her lifetime, most of which were fictitious."[1] For a long time, scholars believed that she was born in Eatonville, Florida in 1901. In the 1990s, a filmmaker established that Hurston had been born in Notasulga, Alabama and moved to Eatonville at a young age, spending her childhood there. It was Eatonville, the first all-Black town to be incorporated in the United States, that inspired her imagination.

Early Life
Zora was the fifth of eight children of John Hurston and Lucy Ann Hurston (nee Potts). Her father was a Baptist preacher, tenant farmer, and carpenter, and her mother was a schoolteacher. When she was three, Zora's family moved to Eatonville, an all-Black town with a population of 125. Her father later became mayor of the town, which Zora would glorify in her stories as a place black Americans could live as they desired, independent of white society. The death of her mother in 1904, when Zora was thirteen, was a devastating event for Zora as she was "passed around the family like a bad penny"[attribution needed] by her father for the next several years.

College and anthropology
Hurston graduated from Morgan Academy, the high school division of Morgan College, in 1918.[2] Later that year, she began her undergraduate studies at Howard University. While at Howard, Hurston became one of the earliest initiates of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and co-founded The Hilltop, the University's student newspaper.[3]. Hurston left Howard in 1924, unable to support herself.

Hurston was offered a scholarship to Barnard College where she received her B.A. in anthropology in 1927. While she was at Barnard, she conducted ethnographic research under her advisor, the noted anthropologist Franz Boas of Columbia University. She also worked with Ruth Benedict as well as fellow anthropology student Margaret Mead.[4]


[edit] The Harlem Renaissance
In 1925, shortly before entering Barnard, Hurston became one of the leaders of the literary renaissance happening in Harlem, producing the short-lived literary magazine Fire!! along with Langston Hughes and Wallace Thurman. This literary movement became the center of the Harlem Renaissance.[5]

Literary career
Hurston applied her ethnographic training to document African American folklore in her critically acclaimed book Mules and Men (1935) along with fiction (Their Eyes Were Watching God) and dance, assembling a folk-based performance group that recreated her Southern tableau, with one performance on Broadway. Hurston was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to travel to Haiti and conduct research on conjure in 1937. Her work was significant because she was able to break into the secret societies and expose their use of drugs to create the Vodun trance, also a subject of study for fellow dancer/anthropologist Katherine Dunham who was then at the University of Chicago.[6]

In 1954 Hurston was unable to sell her fiction but was assigned by the Pittsburgh Courier to cover the small-town murder trial of Ruby McCollum, the prosperous black wife of the local bolita racketeer, who had killed a racist white doctor. Hurston also contributed to Woman in the Suwanee County Jail, a book by journalist and civil rights advocate William Bradford Huie.

Hurston spent her last decade as a freelance writer for magazines and newspapers. She worked in a library in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and as a substitute teacher in Fort Pierce, where she died of a stroke and was buried in an unmarked grave. In 1973 African-American novelist Alice Walker and literary scholar Charlotte Hunt found an unmarked grave in the general area where Hurston had been buried and decided to mark it as hers. The publication of Walker's article "In Search of Zora Neale Hurston" in the March 1975 issue of Ms. Magazine revived interest in her work and helped spark a Hurston renaissance. Hurston's house in Fort Pierce is a National Historic Landmark.

Zora Neale HurstonFort Pierce celebrates Hurston annually through various events such as Hattitudes, birthday parties, and a several-day festival at the end of April, Zora Fest. Her life and legacy are also celebrated every year in Eatonville, the town that inspired her, at the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities.

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During her prime, Hurston was a bootstrap Republican and fan of Booker T. Washington's self-help and accommodationist politics. She was opposed to the collectivist visions (including communism) professed by many of her colleagues in the Harlem Renaissance, such as Langston Hughes, who wrote several poems in praise of the Soviet Union. Hurston thus became the leading black figure on the conservative Old Right, and in 1952 she actively promoted the presidential candidacy of Robert Taft, who was, like Hurston, opposed to forced integration.

Hurston opposed the Supreme Court ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education case of 1954. She felt the physical closeness of blacks to whites was not going to be the salvation her people hoped for, as she herself had had many experiences to the contrary. In addition, she worried about the demise of black schools and black teachers as a way to pass on cultural tradition to future generations of African-Americans. She voiced this opposition in a letter, Court Order Can't Make the Races Mix, which was published in the Orlando Sentinel in August 1955.

Public obscurity and acclaim
Hurston's work slid into obscurity for decades, for a number of reasons, both cultural and political.

Many readers objected to the representation of African American dialect in Hurston's novels. Her stylistic choices in terms of dialogue were influenced by her academic experiences. Thinking like a folklorist, Hurston strove to represent speech patterns of the period ...

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