SEE ALSO: Ida Tarbell, Maya Angelou, Helen Keller, Rachel Carson, Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters, Toni Morrison, Katherine Graham, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Mary McLeod Bethune, Bella Abzug, Rosa Parks, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mary Church Terrell, Patsy Mink, Sonia Sotomayor, Billie Jean King, Josephine Baker, Mary Pickford, Marian Anderson, Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias
Zora Neale Hurston
1891 – 1960
Telling It Like It Was
In Zora Neale Hurston’s hometown of Eatonville, Florida there was no racism. There were no white people either. As a result, Hurston wrote as she lived: blacks in her novels could achieve whatever they wanted. They could have any job, including mayor, which her father was for a time. Hurston didn’t buy into the notion of black oppression, simply because as a young girl, she hadn’t experienced it.
Her characters have little interaction with whites and lived in worlds few whites would recognize or understand. Hurston’s books are filled with strong black women who often succeeded despite the overpowering men in their lives. Though she would come to be considered one of the most important African-American writers of the 20th century, she wasn’t always popular with Harlem’s elite, who felt her work didn’t stress blacks’ experience in society dominated by white people.
Hurston didn’t give much thought to her critics, writing, “I wasn’t part of that sobbing school of Negrohood” that believed “nature has somehow given them a lowdown dirty deal.” Her career faded in the 1950s, and she died a poor woman, buried in an unmarked grave in Florida.
Emily Dunning Barringer: Clara Barton: Alice Gertrude Bryant and Florence West Duckering: Elizabeth Blackwell: Mary Whiton Calkins: Mary Stuart Fisher: Justina Ford: Alice Hamilton: Grace Murray Hopper: Barbara McClintock: Maria Mitchell: Nettie Stevens: Lucy Hobbs Taylor: Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu: Dr. Tsai-Fan Yu: