Zora neal hurston was the daughter of a baptist preacher born in alabama on january 7
1ZORA NEALE HURSTON LaToya Day Ms. Persutti General Psychology
2Zora Neal Hurston was the daughter of a Baptist Preacher born in Alabama on January 7, 1891 only 26years after slavery was abolished. When she was three her father moved their family to Eatonville Florida.Eatonville was the first incorporated black community in America, a place that Zora held as the blackutopia. Zora was able to receive an education and earned her B.A. in Anthropology from ColumbiaUniversity in 1928 (Zora). Her father was the mayor of Eatonville which allotted her opportunities thatmany other blacks did not have, but that is not to say that being the daughter of a black mayor from ablack town made things easy for her. Zora eventually became an accomplished novelist and folklorist aswell as an authority on black culture from the Harlem Renaissance (Zora). Her greatest novel was that ofTheir Eyes Are Watching God, however when the book was released in 1937 it was criticized by the blackcommunity as downplaying the hardships that blacks of that time had to endure at the hands of whites;subsequently the book was shelved and forgotten until the 1970’s. Today because of a revival of hernovel it is considered to be a modern literary canon (Verma).The town that Zora grew up in was a rural black community. Because her interaction with whites was verylimited she did not have the constant contrast or knowledge of being a minority. As far as she wasconcerned she was no different, or at least she held the same value as everyone else. It was not until shewas sent to school in Jacksonville Florida that she actually realized her diversity, or as she put in hershort story “To be Colored Me”, “the very day that I became colored “(Hurston). When she arrived inJacksonville it was the first time that she had such a great contrast of her color to that of the larger ofsociety. “I was not Zora of Orange County anymore; I was now a little colored girl. I found it out in certainways, in my heart as well as in the mirror” (Hurston). Zora was lucky however to have grown up in an allblack community where she was not harassed for her color and looked down upon by others. As stated
3above she was not even aware of her color until she went to a major city where the majority of thepopulation was white. To spite the difficulties that her color brought her she was able to get her educationand make a name for herself. Her being black is why she was discriminated against and it was thisdiscrimination that gave her the most influence for her writings that made her one of the most well knownAfrican American folklorist and novelist of hers’ as well as our time. Zora was able to overcome herhardships and turn them into something very positive, but as I mentioned before what she had to say wasnot always welcomed by the black community. I do not feel that her story “There eyes are watching God”trivialized the black struggle in any way. It was Zoras’ bright outlook and positive attitude that let her get towhere she did. Zora recognized the atrocities that where committed by the whites against the blacks butshe was not going to let these ignorant people keep her down; she was going to hold her head up high inprotest. Her mother used to tell her to “jump at de sun, we might not land on the sun, but at least wewould get off the ground” (Zora).Zora was one of the special few African Americans that were able to make something out of themselves.The majority of the black population was unable to do this because of the repression they faced from theracist white majority. Much of the feelings towards blacks at that time stemmed from the days of slavery.During slavery the blacks were subjected to the worst possible thing that could be done to any person,they where dehumanized. Dehumanization means that they where no longer looked at as people withemotions and a conscious, able to understand and know what is going on and feel bad about it. Duringthe time of slavery slaves were dealt with as property just as animals were. Men were used as studs andmothers as a means to produce more slaves. A man could have many children with many women and thechildren were often taken from the mother and given to a wet nurse so to prevent attachment. Slaveswhere bought and sold at will and used for all sorts of labor and chores. Due to slave owner mindset evenfollowing slavery there where beliefs that blacks where less than human, especially in the south. After awhile however they were accepted as people, but they were viewed as lesser beings. As just two of manyways that they were treated as second class citizens’ blacks were forced to use different water fountainsand restrooms. Even today there are racist people whom feel this way; some would even go so far as tosay that they would support the reinstatement of slavery.A lot has changed since Zoras’ time; blacks are much less marginalized than they once where and the
4bulk of society accepts them as equals. Through desegregation and the civil rights act we as a humanrace have made great bounds in the direction of actually being good people. I find it very sad though thatthere are still groups such as the K.K.K., neo Nazis and the Arian brotherhood who feel as they do.Maybe it is wishful thinking but I think that one day we will be able to live as one human race of manydifferent types of people; one day we will actually be separate but equal. In the words of the great BobMarley “Is there a place for the hopeless sinner, who has hurt all mankind just to save his own beliefs?One Love.” I believe very much in the sociological philosophy of pluralism, we are all different and that isbeautiful but at the same time we are all the same and that is also beautiful. I do not think that I will eversee this in my life time, but hopefully one day it will happen and all races, religions and cultures can liveas one.
5Work CitedVerma, Olivia. “Classic Note on Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Grade Saver. February 10, 2001. April19, 2005Zora Neale Hurston biography.” Women in History. Created/Last modified: April 19 2005. LakewoodPublic Library. Accessed: April 19 2005.Hurston, Zora Neale. “How It Feels to Be Colored Me.” Columbia. 1928. Columbia University. April 19,2005.