Calling her life "a series of wanderings," African American anthropologist and writer Zora Neale Hurston (1901–60) wrote to celebrate herself and the fact that she was black.
"Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry," she said. "It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It's beyond me."
Born in Eatonville, Florida, her father was the town's mayor and Baptist minister. With her precious gift with words, she learned how to interpret rural folktales with strength and magic.
"Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at de Sun,'" Hurston wrote in her 1942 autobiography Dust Tracks on a Road. "We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground"
Hurston, brash, proud, and opinionated, was one of the most important black writers of the 20th century, a celebrated figure of the Harlem Renaissance. Her biographer, Robert Hemenway described this complex woman as "flamboyant, yet vulnerable, self-centered, yet kind, a Republican conservative and an early black nationalist."
Her studies in New Orleans voodoo and research in Haiti and Jamaica helped her write the folklore collections found in Mules and Men (1935) and Tell My Horse (1938). She also wrote two novels, Jonah's Gourd Vine (1934) and Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), which celebrate black identity and share Hurston's quest for a passionate life.
"Love, I find, is like singing," she observed. "Everybody can do enough to satisfy themselves, though it may not impress the neighbors as being very much."
More Zora Neale HURSTON Quotations
Such as I am, I am a precious gift.