Zora Neale Hurston was an American folklorist and author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance, best known for the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. Hurston began her undergraduate studies at Howard University but left after a few years, unable to support herself. She was later offered a scholarship to Barnard College where she received her B.A. in anthropology in 1927. While at Barnard, she conducted ethnographic research under her advisor, the noted anthropologist Franz Boas of Columbia University. She also worked with Ruth Benedict as well as fellow anthropology student Margaret Mead.
In 1926 Hurston, shortly after her degree, became one of the leaders of the literary renaissance happening in Harlem, producing the literary magazine Fire! along with Langston Hughes and Wallace Thurman. This literary movement became the center of the Harlem Renaissance movement. Hurston applied her ethnographic training to document African American folklore in her critically acclaimed book Mules and Men (1935) along with fiction (Their Eyes Were Watching God) and dance, assembling a folk-based performance group that recreated her Southern tableau, with one performance on Broadway. Hurston was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to travel to Haiti and conduct research on conjure in 1937. Her work was significant because she was able to break into the secret societies and expose their use of drugs to create the Vodun trance, also a subject of study for fellow dancer/anthropologist Katherine Dunham who was then at the University of Chicago. In 1954 Hurston was unable to sell her fiction works but was assigned to cover a small town murder trial for the Pittsburgh Courier of a racist white doctor who was murdered by Ruby McCollum, the prosperous black wife of a local racketeer. She also contributed to a book by journalist/author and civil rights advocate William Bradford Huie called "Woman in the Suwanee County Jail". During her prime, Hurston was a bootstrap Republican and...
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