Author: Zora Neale Hurston

The American author and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960) grew up in Eatonville, Florida, one of the first all-black towns incorporated after the Emancipation Proclamation, and later attended Howard University in Washington, DC. After earning an associate’s degree at Howard, she was offered a scholarship to Barnard College, Columbia University, where she studied anthropology and was the school’s only black student. Much of her anthropology work focused on black folklore traditions in the American South and in the Caribbean, and she published a collection of such stories in 1935 in Mules and Men. Hurston also wrote fiction, including her best-known work, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), which, with the help of Alice Walker (author of The Color Purple) was made popular in the 1970s. 

How It Feels to Be Colored Me

Zora Neale Hurston

The problem of personal identity is managed differently by different African Americans. In this personal essay (dated 1928) discussing her own self-understanding, the American author, folklorist, and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960) appears to be anything but conflicted, alienated, or angry.

Letter to the Orlando Sentinel

Zora Neale Hurston

Integration of the public schools, required by the US Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, was adamantly—often violently—opposed by many southern whites. But a few prominent blacks also took a dim view of forced racial integration. In this letter to the Orlando Sentinel, written on August 11, 1955 from her home in Eau Gallie, Florida, distinguished author and educator Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960) offers a witty but biting critique of the court’s decision, in the name of “the self-respect of my people.”