Born on January 7, 1891, Zora Neale Hurston was one of the lead writers of the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural explosion of black creativity centered in Harlem, New York in the 1920s and 30s. A prolific writer, Hurston published four novels, over 50 short stories as well as plays, essays and journalism — she's best known for Their Eyes Were Watching God, Dust Tracks On A Road, and Mules and Men, among other works. Hurston was recognized for her work in the 1920s and 30s, receiving a prestitious Guggenheim Fellowship in 1937. But by the her death in 1960 at the age of 69, Hurston's work had largely faded from the public consciousness. A revival of interest in the 1970s — sparked by Alice Walker's groundbreaking piece in Ms. magazine — put Hurston right back where she belongs: as one of the most important and talented American writers, period.
To celebrate Zora Neale Hurston’s legacy, we’ve collected 25 photos and quotes to inspire you:
A young Zora Neale Hurston, c. 1919-1923
A young Zora Neale Hurston in a flapper outfit, c. 1919-1923
"Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at the sun.' We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground."
Zora Neale Hurston as a student at Howard University, c. 1919-1923
"Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can anyone deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me."
Zora Neale Hurston at her home in Brevard County, Florida, c. 1929
Zora Neale Hurston in Chicago, 1934
“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”
Zora Neale Hurston performing the "crow dance," 1935
Zora Neale Hurston in 1935
"I do not weep at the world. I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife."
Zora Neale Hurston, c. 1935
“An envious heart makes a treacherous ear.”
Zora Neale Hurston at a book fair in 1937
"I have been in Sorrow's kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and sword in my hands."
Zora Neale Hurston beating a Haitian maman drum, 1937
“Those that don’t got it, can’t show it. Those that got it, can’t hide it.”
Zora Neale Hurston in 1938
"Love, I find, is like singing. Everybody can do enough to satisfy themselves, though it may not impress the neighbors as being very much."
Zora Neale Hurston photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1940
“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place”
Zora Neale Hurston in Brevard County, Florida
Zora Neale Hurston smoking
"Love is like the sea. It’s a moving thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from the shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore."
Zora Neale Hurston at a football game in North Carolina
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