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Ralph E. Luker

writer and anthropologist, was born Zora Lee Hurston in Notasulga, Alabama, the daughter of John Hurston, a Baptist minister and carpenter, and Lucy Ann Potts. John Hurston's family were Alabama tenant farmers until he moved to Eatonville, Florida, the first African American town incorporated in the United States. He served three terms as its mayor and is said to have written Eatonville's ordinances. Zora Neale Hurston studied at its Hungerford School, where followers of Booker T. Washington taught both elementary academic skills and self-reliance. Growing up in an exclusively black community gave her a unique background that informed and inspired much of her later work.Much of the chronological detail of Hurston's early life is obscured by the fact that she later claimed birth dates that varied from 1898 to 1903. Most often she cited 1901 as her birth year, but the census of 1900 lists ...

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Lisa Clayton Robinson

“I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it. Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less. No, I do not weep at the world—I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.”

This quotation from her essay “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” (1928 portrays Zora Neale Hurston s joyfully contrary view of herself in a world where being black was often perceived as a problem and portrayed that way even by black writers Hurston considered her own blackness a gift and an opportunity As an anthropologist and writer she savored the richness of black culture and made a career out of writing about that culture in ...

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Tiffany Ruby Patterson

Born in the all-black town of Eatonville, Florida, Zora Neale Hurston was the fifth of eight children of John Hurston, a minister, and Lucy Potts Hurston. In her autobiography, Hurston described her childhood as a safe and secure world where her imagination was unencumbered by the restrictions of race or gender and where she had the opportunity to develop her own individuality. This idyllic childhood was shattered by the death of her mother around 1904 and the disintegration of her family. Hurston’s father sent her off to boarding school, and her sisters and brothers scattered into marriages, schools, and journeys of their own. Her father’s remarriage several months after her mother’s death catapulted Hurston out of the safe world of Eatonville.