Florida Women Who Have Made History: Zora Neale Hurston
A noted anthropologist and author, Zora Neale Hurson spent her childhood years growing up in Eatonville, the first incorporated town in Florida founded by African-Americans. During her teenage years, she spent time living in Jacksonville, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. before living in Harlem during the 1920s. She returned in later years to Florida as
Hurston is now widely recognized for her prolific writing. As a trained folklorist, she wrote studies of southern African-American cultural practices recorded in Mules and Men and cultural practices around voodoo in Haiti and Jamaica in Tell My Horse. She published an autobiography in 1942. As a fiction writer, she published several novels such as Their Eyes Were Watching God and also wrote plays. In the late 1930s, Zora was a part of the Florida division of the Works Progress Administration Federal Writers’ Project. She recorded stories, songs, history and traditions from African-American communities across the state.
Hurston died at 69, also having suffered a stroke prior to death, in St. Lucie County. She was living in poverty and obscurity at the end of her life, with none of her books in print, working as a substitute teacher and maid. Her writing gained more acclaim and recognition after her death, is now well-known as required reading, and has been made into television and films. Her home in Fort Pierce is a National Historic Landmark.