Home » Black History » Z is For Zora!

Z is For Zora!

It’s Me!



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“Moon’s too pretty fuh anybody tuh be sleepin’ it away.” 

Nothing has ever brought me more joy than watching more shooting stars than I can count, seeing a moon that looks like a big, round, orange gumball waiting for me to grab it, and books!

“I did not just fall in love. I made a parachute jump.”

The first book I ever wrote was made of a cardboard front and back cover that had been covered in blue and white contact paper. I had punched three holes on the side of the book, and in addition to the contact the paper that my mother had purchased, she had also picked up some of the brass fasteners that would help me keep my book of a few pages together.  If you asked me to gone away lakerecall what the book was about in its entirety(nature was interwoven somewhere), I probably couldn’t tell you, but I know it was creative and Grandma(Mary Peoples, The Saint) loved it. I do remember that I had become distracted by one book that took my mind away to another place, Elizabeth Enright’s Gone Away Lake.  In this story, a brother and sister from New York were traveling to the country to visit their cousins, but when they went away for the summer they encountered summer adventures and people, like Mrs. Minnihaha Cheever, a name I loved reading. I appreciated how the story was told;and, as a fifth grader I could relate to going away for the summer because it was what I had grown accustomed to when my family left for Alabama.  Eventually, my mother moved my sisters and me there for good when I was in the third grade to look after Grandma.  Gone Away Lake expanded my already restless imagination and took me to even greater places.

“No matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you.”

And, then came Ms. Zora (In the South, every woman is a Ms. and every man is a Mr.).  When I first read her work, I felt as if I had gained a new family member and we were having an open and honest conversation. Maybe it was her use of vernacular, the speech I understood all too well (and still proudly use today).  Maybe it was the loud outbursts of laughter I was always sure to have from what she had written on the pages of her books; she had caused Zora Neale Hurstonme to ‘LOL’ long before it was even digital-media savvy.  But then again, I think it was the way she always told two and three stories within one: the men on the porch, the female heroine, and the narrator (who could even be the river at times) each had a unique vantage point that always managed to come together as one finely told story in the end, but sometimes they never came together, but it was okay.  Either way, I have been in love with her writing ever since reading her short stories, which were also my pathway to her books. She appreciated people, life, love, nature, and words.  And I appreciated her!

“Those that don’t got it, can’t show it. Those that got it, can’t hide it.”

Zora LaughingZora Neale Hurston was a spunky, lively, sassy, and thinking kind of woman. Her writing revealed to me that perhaps women had always been locked into roles from which she always wanted to remove us. The hardships that women faced in her stories seemed to most times get resolved so that women would shine as heroes. She knew exactly how to punctuate and add and subtract [from the story] with words. She could skillfully imply, infer, and incorporate innuendo, too! Whether the men were antagonists (most of the time they were) or static characters that you could always depend on to show up, Ms. Hurston mastered the art of infusing all of the characters always present in a rural, Delta-region community.  I could relate to her story-telling and the cool, confident ways in which she matter-of-factly allowed the story to become what it needed to become for a restless mind like mine.

“It’s no use of talking unless people understand what you say.”

On this 125th birthday celebration, I salute Ms. Hurston for being aHurston with kids pioneering member of one of the first all Black communities established and governed in America, Eatonville and allowing it shape her spirit. I salute Ms. Hurston for always having a curious mind and a sharing spirit that led her into the world of anthropology through her research; I have learned about communities I may have never known about otherwise.

“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”

Ms. Zora in White!

Ms. Zora–Outstanding!

I applaud Zora Neale Hurston for going to college (Howard University), joining our sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, and furthering the cause of community and service.  I love the fact that she took the risk to attend Barnard/Columbia College in New York City even when she was forced to live off-campus because of her race (her peers at the time “protested” against having to board with a Black woman–Barnard Archives of Ms. Zora’s attendance).  I thank Ms. Hurston for always showing Black culture as literature-research-investment-worthy labor that the entire world needed to know, love, and embrace.

“Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”

Without Ms. Zora, there would be no Nikki (Giovanni), Sonia (Sanchez), Alice (Walker), Edwidge (Danticat) or Little Ms. Zoras.

Aneesah (my niece) as Little Ms. Zora!

Aneesah (my niece) as Little Ms. Zora!

There is a certain kind of confidence that comes from a girl whose name begins with the letter ‘Z.’  I often refer to it as Z Power–a kind of magic that we have that connects us to the universe differently than girls whose names begin with the first 25 letters of the Alphabet ( I am sure you girls must have your own kind of power and Alphabet Sisterhood). Ms. Zora remains to have the Z Power to pull me from my hiding place.  I call that [everlasting] love.  Happy Birthday, Ms. Zora!

“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”

To learn more about this Phenomenal woman, go to: Ms. Zora

1 Comment

  1. Zakiyyah Ali says:

    Reblogged this on ThePoliDay Report and commented:

    Happy 124th BIRTHDAY Zora Neale Hurston!! I celebrate Ms. Zora on every birthday! So should you! Check out this post from last year.

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