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Zora Neale Hurston: Esteemed Author and Scholar of Anthropology and Folklore

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Born on January 7, 1891, in Notasulga, Alabama, of the United States of America, Zora Neale Hurston became one of the most significant and successful female African American writers of the 20th century. Her writing career spanned 30 years, during which she published two books on folklore, four novels, numerous short stories, essays, plays, and an autobiography. Zora Neale Hurston possessed a great sense of humor and intellect, charming all those she met.

Zora Neale Hurston established a school of dramatic arts in 1934 at Bethune-Cookman College, and in 1956, she received the Bethune-Cookman College Award for Education and Human Relations in recognition of her achievements. In 1935, Zora began her studies at Columbia University for a Ph.D. in anthropology on a fellowship from Rosenwald Foundation. The 1937 novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God” was considered her masterpiece novel. It is the story about a young African American woman’s growth towards independence and self-awareness.

When Zora’s autobiography “Dust Tracks on a Road” was published in 1942, she received international acclaim and was featured in “Who’s Who in America,” “Current Biography,” and “Twentieth Century Authors.” “Barracoon” is a book written by Zora based on three months of interviews with a man named Cudjo Lewis, originally named Kossula. He was a survivor of the last slave ship to land in America. 87 years later, “Barracoon” was published by the Zora Neal Hurston Trust. It became a bestseller, selling over 250,000 copies.

Zora’s book “Their Eyes Were Watching God” became a television movie in 2005. Zora Neale Hurston acknowledged herself as a “cosmic” being in her essay, “How It Feels To Be Colored Me.” “The cosmic Zora emerges. I belong to no race nor time. I am the eternal feminine with its string of beads. I have no separate feeling about being an American citizen and colored. I am merely a fragment of the Great Soul that surges within the boundaries.”

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