Civil Rights activist Zora Neale Hurston is the new Google Doodle today in order to celebrate what would have been her 123rd birthday. Read on for the facts on Hurston to see why she’s someone to remember.
1. Hurston Was a “Fixture of the Harlem Renaissance”
According to Biography.com, Hurston studied at a host of universities throughout the Caribbean, the South, and Latin America in order to collect folklore for her works. She then published her writing in Mules and Men. As part of the Harlem Renaissance, she hung out with many of its most famous writers like Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen.
Hurston soon began working with her fellow writers on different things. The play Mule-Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life was a project that Hurston produced with Langston Hughes. Unfortunately, the two writers argued over the play, which led to them eventually parting ways. However, Hurston continued to write plays including From Sun to Sun and The Great Day.
After her passing, Hurston had great influence on Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, and many other writers.
2. She Was the Daughter of Two Former Slaves
On this day, 1891, Zora Neale Hurston, one of the US's first black, female novelists, is born, in Notasulga, Alabama. pic.twitter.com/EZPq3PpQKd
— Waterstones (@Waterstones) January 7, 2014
John Hurston was a pastor who married Lucy Ann Potts. The two were former slaves who later became the parents of Zora Neale Hurston. When Zora was very young, the family moved to Florida. After Lucy passed away, John remarried and Zora moved on to live with various family members. Wikipedia writes about Zora’s childhood saying: She was born in Notasulga, Alabama, on January 7, 1891, where her father grew up and her grandfather was the preacher of a Baptist church. Her family moved to Eatonville, Florida, one of the first all-black towns to be incorporated in the United States, when she was three. Hurston said she always felt that Eatonville was “home” to her and sometimes claimed it as her birthplace.
3. Legal Troubles Loomed Over Hurston
— Ebonee Monique (@eboneemonique) January 7, 2014
Unfortunately, in 1948, Zora Neale Hurston was charged with molesting a 10-year-old boy. Though she was able to prove that she was out of the country when the incident occurred, the news of this made her career suffer.
4. She Was Granted a Guggenheim Fellowship
— O is for Oblectation (@RantingOwl) January 7, 2014
Just two years after releasing her first novel Jonah’s Gourd Vine, Hurston was given a Guggenheim fellowship. A Guggenheim fellowship, for those who don’t know, is a grant that’s awarded by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to people who’ve proven to have an outstanding creative ability in addition to be an exceptional scholar.
Because Hurston received this grant, she was able to write her most famous piece, which was Their Eyes Were Watching God.
5. Hurston Died Poor and Alone
— UCF Women's Studies (@WSTatUCF) January 7, 2014
The last decade of her life, Hurston struggled financially as she had difficulty getting her work published. She sadly suffered several strokes and began living in the St. Lucie County Welfare Home, where she passed away alone. On January 28, 1960, Hurston died and was buried in an unmarked grave in Fort Pierce, Florida.