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Zora Neale Hurston

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Author History

On January 7, 1891 in Notasulga, Alabama, the world welcomed the world renowned Harlem renaissance author known as Zora Neale Hurston. She was number five our eight in the John Hurston and Lucy Potts Hurston bunch. Once Zora turned the mere age of three, her family moved to one of the first black established towns in the United States, Eatonville, FL. In the little rural community a few miles outside of Orlando, Hurston saw a plethora of African Americans become successful, even during the time of oppression; her father became the mayor and her mother was a Sunday school teacher. Sadly her time with her mother Lucy could not be fulfilled as it should considering she died in 1904 when Zora was only 13 years old, but Zora would always recollect her mother telling her to jump for the stars.

After Lucy Hurston's death, her father John Huston, remarried a younger woman rather quickly. That action and the illusion that he had too little time and or money for his children caused extraneous restraints on his relationships with his children. So extraneous that fire-headed Zora nearly killed her new stepmother in a brawl. John and his new love sent young Zora off to Jacksonville, FL to attend boarding school. Then after some time passed, daddy Hurston refused to continue to pay for Zora's tuition, leaving the school no choice but to banish her.

Hurston was forced to work a plethora of tedious jobs throughout the years, and eventually turned to join Gilbert & Sullivan, a musical duo for comic opera during the Victorian-era. Zora began as the maid and climbed all the way up the ladder until she became lead singer.

By time she was 26, she found herself all the way in Baltimore and still had yet to complete her high school education. Because she needed to present herself as a teenager in order to qualify for free public schooling, she lopped 10 years off her life. This gave her the new age of 16 and the year of her birth as 1901. Back in 1901, when Zora was 10, a teacher from up north came down to Eatonville and gave adolescent Zora several books. She describes this as her birth year because it was her first exposure to true literature. Once erased, those years were never restored. From that moment forward, Hurston would always present herself as at least 10 years younger than she actually was and, she was also blessed with the features to go along with it. She would go on to attend Morgan Academy, the high school division of the historically black Morgan College in Baltimore, and graduated by 1918.

In the summer of 1918 Hurston served as a waitress at a nightclub and a manicurist at a black owned barbershop that ironically only served whites. By that fall Zora would enroll in the Howard University to initiate her undergraduate studies. While attending Howard she was one of the earliest Soros of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated, as well as co-founded the school newspaper known as The Hilltop. She would go on to complete her degree and graduate in 1920

In 1921, she wrote a short story, John Redding Goes to Sea, which qualified her to be a part of The Stylus, Alaine Locke's, who is acknowledged as the Dean of the Harlem Renaissance, literary club, The Stylus. Hurston left Howard in 1924 and in 1925 was offered a scholarship to Barnard College, Columbia University in New York City where she was the college's lone black student. Hurston received her B.A. in Anthropology by 1927, when she was 36. While she was at Barnard, she conducted ethnographic research with noted anthropologist Franz Boas of Columbia University.

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