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Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston, world traveler

By Amy Howard

Not many people can claim hardships like those of Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960). But even fewer can claim such a vibrant spirit. She denied the negative aspects of her life and broadcasted the positive. Hurston created her own identity through academic determination, literary achievement, and carefree embellishment. By extension, she translated the female African-American identity into one without fences. Now Zora Neale Hurston is an icon to those who won't let the world define them.

Creating Herself

Zora was born in Alabama, daughter of a former slave-turned sharecropper. In conversation and in her autobiography, however, she says she was born in America's first incorporated Negro town, Eatonville, Florida, daughter of the town's mayor/minister. It's mostly true. She simply erased the first two years of her life in Alabama before her family moved to Eatonville. Zora also erased the decade after her mother's death, when from the age of thirteen, her father farmed her out to various other homes. She called those the "haunted years." She even erased portions of her age - first in order to finish high school ten years too late, and later to simply claim an age which matched her vitality.

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