Zora Neale Hurston - The Harlem Renaissance also known as the new Negro movement presented an opportunity for African-Americans to redefine themselves

Zora Neale Hurston - The Harlem Renaissance also known as...

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The Harlem Renaissance also known as the “new Negro” movement presented an opportunity for African-Americans to redefine themselves. Scholars such as W. E. B. DuBois and Ralph Ellison advocated that art and literature be used as propaganda to advance a sophisticated image of urban black people, and dissociate images of black people as plantation dwellers. However, a modernist wing of scholars comprised with the likes of Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes challenged biases against depicting “lower class” blacks. Hurston, in particular, even preferred to use rural settings, and her works became controversial because of so-called “caricature” characters in her novels conversing in southern vernacular. In addition to Hurston’s literary choices, her political sentiments became viewed as polemic. Huston’s actions and sentiments stemmed from her life experiences; thus, this report aims to scrutinize Hurston’s personal life in parallel with her works and political views to promote a better understanding of her complex views. Early Life Hurston was born on January 7, 1891 in Notasulga, Alabama. Although many bibliographies still place her birthplace as the all black town of Eatonville, Florida. Her family moved to Eatonville, Florida, one of the first all- black townships to become integrated in the United States, when she was three. 1 Hurston glorified Eatonville describing it as a place where African Americans could prosper and live independent of white society. She stated she always felt that Eatonville was “home” to her and sometimes claimed it as her birthplace. 2 Hurston’s mother, Lucy Potts Hurston, was a schoolteacher and her father, John Hurston, was a carpenter, tenant farmer and Baptist preacher. He later became the mayor of Eatonville. The dynamics of her family life as the daughter of a schoolteacher and preacher had a long lasting effect on Zora’s ideologies; however, the single most significant event of her childhood
was her mother’s death in 1904, when Zora was thirteen. Her father remarried to Matte Mog,e which was a minor scandal within itself, because it was rumored that he had affairs with Moge before Lucy Hurston died. 3 Zora and her siblings were sent to boarding school after her father’s remarriage. Zora Hurston flourished in school, but after a year, her father stopped paying tuition and the school expelled her. Consequently, Zora and her siblings were sent to live with relatives and friends. After years of wandering from various relatives and friends’ homes, in 1917, Zora Hurston left Eatonville to attend high school at Morgan Academy in Baltimore. 4 After graduating from Morgan Academy in 1918, she went on to attend Howard Prep School and Howard University. At Howard University, Hurston earned an Associates Degree.

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