Project Mosaic Reflections

“I firmly believe that the Harlem Renaissance and Zora Neale Hurston’s contributions affect the present and the future. Focusing on the theme of identity, our group realized that through creativity, African Americans established courage, gained respect, and found a purpose through the arts. It was incredible to see such a distinct connection between the world of art and the world of politics.” –Hannah Barr

“While doing the bibliography and reading the related books, I saw themes that related to my State of Black America course. One of the movements within the Harlem Renaissance was the pursuit of recognition for traditional African-American folk art as legitimate and academic.” –Nick Wejchert

“I was actually glad that we were assigned to the Zora Neale Hurston group. During senior year of high school, I studied a significant amount of her literature, and this exhibition allowed me to re-immerse myself in her work and African-American history. Upon coming to Rollins, I was surprised to find out how close in proximity all this is to me. Eatonville is located less than half an hour away. Hannibal Square, one of the first historically black settlements in the area, is just down the street from Rollins. It is surprising how few people are aware of this.” –Anna Montoya

“Hurston’s novels and other writings were revolutionary at the time for their commentary on what it meant to be black. This message was especially difficult for people to accept coming from a woman. Hurston was also one of the first successful female anthropologists; her work focuses on dialects, customs, and the history of the African-American people. This had a profound impact on the way the public came to understand what life was like for an African American in the 20th century.” –Cory Baden

“Hurston was from Eatonville, Florida, which is ten minutes from where I was born and resided my whole life. I never knew I was in the vicinity of such a historical and important community.” –Kelly Thayer

“I enjoyed arranging the pieces of art and the wall text within the gallery space we created in Google Sketchup. The process brought to fruition all the elements of the exhibition on which we had been working.” –Morgan Gill

“After looking more closely at these art pieces, in comparison with Hurston’s writing, I found that there were many underlying themes to incorporate into the exhibition. The contrast between colorful and monochromatic works worked nicely with Hurston’s writing about how she feels. We each view the world through a black and white lens but are filled with a million different colors inside.” –Graace Loescher

Zora Neale Hurston and the Harlem Renaissance: Searching for Identity

Aspects of Negro Life

Aaron Douglas, Aspects of Negro Life: Idylls of the Deep South, 1934

This exhibition includes an array of talents from the Harlem Renaissance period, the cultural movement that spanned the early 1902s through the 1930s. It has been known as the “New Negro Movement” and, while it was centered in Harlem in New York City, other locations were also influenced. Zora Neale Hurston served an influential role during this time period. It is important to understand the significance of this era in history and how African American people were able to develop and adapt their own ideals, morals, and customs through creativity and art. Therefore, the focus of the exhibition is on the African American search for identity in the post-slavery period and the creation and self-expression through art during the Harlem Renaissance. As a novelist, anthropologist, and folklorist, Hurston was recognized for her distinctive way of relaying her feelings and ideals about racial division and for her efforts to connect both the artistic world and the African American population. Through her creativity, meaningful and ornate words, and undeniable talent, Hurston helped develop a common identity for her people during an influential time in history.

Virtual Exhibition

Virtual Exhibition

The Works

This exhibition presents a special opportunity to explore connections between the historic literary works of Zora Neale Hurston and the analytical expressive arts of the Harlem Renaissance. Zora Neale Hurston and the Harlem Renaissance: Searching for Identity is an innovative display of art and sculpture from the Harlem Renaissance combined with literary works that will explore connections between Hurston’s written expression of African-American heritage and parallel examination by notable African-American artists working contemporaneously during the Harlem Renaissance. Themes of identity were extremely prominent in African American art during this period of cultural flux. This exhibition, therefore, focuses on this analytical topic in three sub-categories: Music and Cultural Identity, Female Identity, and Land and Labor. Applicable quotes by Harlem Renaissance arts and excerpts of Hurston’s works have been paired with artworks in order to demonstrate the cohesion of this cultural movement.

Female Identity

The Migration Series, Panel No. 57

Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, Panel No. 57: "The female worker was also one of the last groups to leave the South,” 1940-41

Zora Neale Hurston had a sense of humor about women’s issues. A lighthearted attitude was almost necessary for an African American woman in the period following the Reconstruction, as such existence meant twofold discrimination. Much of the art produced during this time therefore expresses issues of feminine identity during this period of change and instability. During the 1920s and ’30s, African American culture was undergoing a shift of domestic dynamics. In the ages of slave labor, African American families were generally matriarchal—led by the female members. As African American male slaves often felt emasculated by their duties and treatment by white masters, women assumed dominated positions and domestic responsibilities. Emancipation and Reconstruction brought change to these dynamics as African American males began working at paying jobs and women were left at home. African American women were assimilated only on the most superficial of levels into a subcategory of human existence defined by gender-based discrimination and disrespect.

Music and Cultural Identity

Aspects of Negro Life

Aaron Douglas, Aspects of Negro Life: From Slavery Through Reconstruction, 1934

“Now I can say loudly and openly what I have been saying to myself on my knees.” –Duke Ellington

Zora Neale Hurston was very interested in preserving African heritage and identity through art and music during the Harlem Renaissance. Art during this time reflected the desire to use music to keep African heritage alive. Jacob Lawrence’s painting Jazz typifies the growing expression of music in African American communities, especially through jazz. The rhythms and beats of jazz were unique to African America roots in tribal music and gave them an individual voice. August Christine Savage’s bronze cast Lift Every Voice and Sing (1939),built for the World’s Fair, was based on the African American National Anthem, also titled “Lift Every Voice and Sing, written by James Weldon Johnson. This sculpture was a physical representation for the song, created to enhance the message and give hope to the black community. The painting Aspects of Negro Life: From Slavery Through Reconstruction (1934) by Aaron Douglas is part of a series of wall paintings that depict different aspects of black history. This painting is an example of how African Americans were building a new identity after the reconstruction. The painting shows the shift in the place of African Americans in society, from slavery to emancipation. Douglas depicts the emancipated slaves as celebrating their triumph through music and dance. This painting provides an example of how African Americans use music to celebrate and continue their heritage. Together, these paintings exhibit the Hurston’s desire to keep the African heritage and identity alive through the use of music.

Land and Labor

Ascent of Ethiopia

Lois Mailou Jones, Ascent of Ethiopia, 1932

“Sweat, sweat, sweat! Work and sweat, cry and sweat, pray and sweat!” –Zora Neale Hurston

Land and labor were an important theme used in Hurston’s work. African Americans have had a strong connection to the land that they live on because of their past as slave workers and sharecroppers. William Johnson’s painting Chain Gang (1939) provides an example of African American people being literally bound to the land that they are working on. Because of this past, African Americans have had  a deep relationship with the earth. In the painting Ascent of Ethiopia (1932), Lois Mailou Jones expresses the journey of African Americans from slavery to their current struggles. It is meant to represent these trials and their fight to overcome them. In the painting Soul History (1969), Romare Bearden shows a group of celebratory African Americans holding their instruments in jubilant song. Bearden is known for creating collages about black lifestyle and music. All of these pieces provide examples of the strong connections between African Americans and the land.

Aaron Douglas (1898-1979)

Into Bondage

Aaron Douglas, Into Bondage, 1936

“Our problem is to conceive, develop, establish an art era. Not white art painting black. Let’s bare our arms and plunge them deep through laughter, through pain, through sorrow, through hope, through disappointment, into the very depths of the souls of our people and drag forth material crude, rough, neglected. Then let’s sing it, dance it, write it, paint it. Let’s do the impossible. Let’s create something transcendentally material, mystically objective. Earthy. Spiritually earthy. Dynamic.” –Aaron Douglas

Aaron Douglas was the Harlem Renaissance artist who was best known for the “New Negro” philosophy. He created murals for public buildings and produced illustrations and cover designs for many black works including the literary magazine, The Crisis and Opportunity. He moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1940, where he founded the Art Department at Fisk University and shared his passion for writing for 29 years.

Aaron Douglas, Aspects of Negro Life, Panel 3: Idylls of the Deep South, 1934,

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston

“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.”  -Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston is considered to be one of the most influential contributors to the Harlem Renaissance period. She was an established American anthropologist, folklorist, and novelist who was not only an inspiration to those surrounding her, but she affected aspiring creators all across the country. She is perhaps most known for producing the magazine Fire!, which featured and showcased numerous writers from the Harlem Renaissance. Through the production of the literary magazine, Hurston inspired and encouraged other novelists to be courageous and embark on a personal journey to reveal individual identity.

William H. Johnson (1901-70)

Chain Gang

William Johnson, Chain Gang, 1939

William H. Johnson arrived in Harlem when the Renaissance was just beginning. He had come to New York in search of inspiration in 1918 from Florence, South Carolina, and became a student at the National Academy of Design in the heart of the city. He studied and remained there for five years, absorbing the teachings of Charles Hawthorne and George Luks, two well-known and established artists. Johnson was inspired by their artistic abilities and styles. It was clear that he was readying himself for a career in art that would take him to foreign places, specifically North Africa and Europe in search of a permanent residence. It was through the influence of Hawthorne that Johnson traveled to Paris in 1926, where he settled, painted, and studied the works of modern European masters.

The Harlem Renaissance: A Social Documentary Through Art

Virtual exhibition gallery

Virtual exhibition gallery

Introductory  Wall Text

The Harlem Renaissance: A Social Documentary Through Art

Zora Neale Hurston

Carl Van Vechten, Portrait of Zora Neale Hurston, 1938

The Harlem Renaissance was a period of cultural revival for African Americans that lasted from the 1920s to the 1940s. During this period, blacks generated for themselves a sense of pride and identity through creative expression. Though the literary, musical, and artistic innovation was concentrated in Harlem, New York City, the passion there soon spilled over and spread across the United States. This attention to the local was never more profoundly embodied than in the work of Zora Neale Hurston, a prominent essayist, poet, and above all, anthropologist of the Harlem Renaissance. The art produced at this time varied greatly in theme. It ranges from the depiction of grandiose urban lifestyles to mundane rural landscapes; from the frivolous daily motions of individuals to the all-encompassing and weighty themes of slavery and cultural origins in Africa.

Note on selection choices: We decided to focus on the societal unit, and moreover, its diversity and mutability.  Based on this observation, we surmised: What better way to model our approach to after than the anthropological work of Zora Neale Hurston herself?

Midsummer Night in Harlem

Palmer C. Hayden, Midsummer Night in Harlem, 1938, oil on canvas

Gallery Guide

Brother Brown

Mailou Jones, Brother Brown, 1931, watercolor on paper

A notable central theme is the depiction and reinterpretation of everyday life. Much of the art of the Harlem Renaissance features scenes of people living their lives and performing everyday tasks. The works of art are not meant to be mundane but rather intended to capture undertones of emotion and struggle present in the everyday lives of 1920s and 30s blacks in America.  Many of the struggles present in the Harlem Renaissance occurred because it was a time of great change and marked a convergence of vastly different ideologies.

During the Harlem Renaissance there was a great struggle for intellectual recognition among African-American artists, authors, poets and scholars. In a related way, the Harlem  Renaissance also focused on members of the black community reasserting pride in their cultural history and identity. For the first time, during the Harlem Renaissance there was a major effort to bring academic and historical legitimacy to many classic folk tales and lore.

Langston Hughes On The Stoop

Portrait of Langston Hughes in Harlem, June 1958

Among the most important thinkers of the Harlem Renaissance was Zora Neale Hurston, who was greatly influential in legitimizing and spreading the messages of the Harlem Renaissance. More specifically, Hurston was known in large part for her anthropological and literary contributions to the Harlem Renaissance. Hurston wrote a great deal about what it means to be a black woman in a society dominated by white men. One major contribution of Hurston was her writings for the Harlem publication Fire!, which also featured other revolutionaries of the time such as Langston Hughes.

In large part Fire! was created to help promote and embrace a newly forming intellectual movement in the African-American community during the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance. The new ideas of the Harlem Renaissance spread by publications such as Fire!! helped foster a major social movement. However, the Harlem Renaissance was clearly about much more than just the spread of new ideas through the written word; art and music were also pivotal important in giving birth to the Harlem Renaissance.

Wall Text

Wall Panel

Wall Text Panel 1

The Great Depression and its Effects on the Arts: Hard Times Ignite the Arts

These circumstances, coupled with the anger and frustration of the black American population ignited the arts during the Harlem Renaissance as an outlet to show the world the plight of their community.  Our exhibit features works such as Free Clinic by Jacob Lawrence. This painting shows a large group of black Americans crowded into a waiting room. They are battered and down trodden under the surveillance of a white official. The Soup Kitchen by Norman Wilfred Lewis is another piece that exemplifies the hardships black Americans went through during the Great Depression. The scene depicts a few black Americans waiting in line at a crowded soup kitchen for what may possibly be their only meal of the day. Black American artists used these images to give the rest of the world a first-hand view into the hardships of their daily life during the Great Depression, and, in doing so, they launched the Harlem Renaissance.

Wall Panel

Wall Text Panel 2

Zora Neale Hurston: A Social Commentator

Arguably the most influential anthropologist of the Harlem Renaissance, Zora Neale Hurston became renowned for both her detailed ethnographies which centered on her hometown of Eatonville, Florida, and her large-scale work as a talented writer.  Hurston is recognized for her critical eye in detecting social and cultural nuances at the local level, and for this, is known as a “local colorist.”  After moving to Harlem, Hurston furthered her career by transitioning into essays and poetry.  In many of her writings, Hurston recounts the struggles she faced on a daily basis as a black woman.  Not only did her race influence others’ perceptions of her, but it even affected the image she held of herself.  However, in this iconic portrait photograph, Hurston seems to defy these tactless impressions.

Wall Panel

Wall Text Panel 3

The Daily Lives of African Americans: The Sanctity of the Mundane

During the Harlem Renaissance, African American painters, writers, sculptors, musicians and poets looked inward toward their culture as a source of inspiration for their work. Representations of the “mundane” or “everyday” gained sacred significance by preserving African-American traditions and acting as a mechanism of social change. There are numerous works of art in this exhibition that depict everyday life during the Harlem Renaissance. The art of the Harlem Renaissance laid the foundation for the Civil Rights Movement by exposing the ardent passion African Americans had for their culture and its importance in American society.

The Upbringing and Education of Zora Neale Hurston

By Elisabeth Flynn, Caitlin Deasy, and Rachel Ruah

Zora Neale Hurston


  • Born on January 7, 1891 in Notasulga, Alabama, Hurston was the fifth out of eight children.
  • At the age of three, Hurston and her family moved to Eatonville, where they lived on five acres of land in an eight-room house.
  • Her writings reveal no recollection of Alabama, and Hurston said that Eatonville always felt like home.
  • She was immersed in black folk life.
  • Her father, John Hurston, was a Baptist preacher, tenant farmer, and carpenter who became the mayor of Eatonville.
  • In 1904, her mother, Lucy Potts Hurston, a former schoolteacher, passed away. At the age of thirteen, Hurston was devastated by the loss. During that time, her life took a drastic change. The years following her mother’s passing from 1905-1912 are known as her “lost years.”
  • As a child, Hurston was encouraged by her mother to be adventurous and curious. She quoted her mother as saying, “’Jump at de sun.’ We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.”
  • After her mother’s death, John Hurston quickly remarried.

Eatonville Town Hall


  • Eatonville was the first all-black community in America.
  • Although racism was abundant during these times, Hurston was shielded from this experience because of her upbringing in Eatonville.
  • Eatonville was populated with 125 people when she moved there.
  • In her writings, Hurston shows great appreciation for Eatonville’s independent culture, community, and enterprise. Of Eatonville, Hurston wrote, “There were three croquet courts, three hundred brown skins, two schools, and no jailhouse.”
  • Hurston viewed Eatonville as a Utopia and a place where black Americans could live as they desired, independent of white societies and their ways.
  • Living in Eatonville shaped Hurston’s life and writing.
  • Hurston captured the culture of the community in Eatonville through her writing and the town celebrates their connection to her through an annual festival.

Early Education

  • Of her early education, Hurston wrote, “I went to grammar school in the village and was generally considered a bright pupil, but impudent and a bit stubborn. There were many beatings, both at home and at school, and a great deal of talk at both places about ‘breaking my spirit.’”
  • A mile down the road was a white village, inhabited by people from Wisconsin, Michigan, and upper New York State, who often visited Eatonville. They gave books to Zora and sent her more when they went North in the summer. Hurston was friendly with their children and felt no fear of “white faces,” despite the warnings she received from people in Eatonville. Of race, Hurston wrote, “I just see people. I see the man first, and his race as just another detail of his description.”
  • In 1904, the same year her mother passed away, her father removed her from school and sent her to care for her brother’s children. Hurston was eager to leave the responsibility of her brother’s household.
  • At sixteen, Zora became a member of a traveling theater, Gilbert & Sullivan, and began domestic work in a white household. The woman for whom she worked bought Zora her first book and arranged for her to attend high school at Morgan Academy in Baltimore.

Howard University

Secondary and University Education

  • In 1917, she attended Morgan Academy in Baltimore, where she completed her high school requirements.
  • From 1921-1924, Hurston attended Howard Prep School and Howard University and earned an associate’s degree. She wrote her first short story for The Stylus, the university’s literary magazine.
  • She started writing on her own, submitting her stories to various magazines. The editor of Opportunity, a Negro journal, encouraged her to go to New York City, where there was more opportunity for Negro writers and where she could mingle with literary people.
  • In 1925, she moved to New York City, drawn by the circle of creative black artists (now known as the Harlem Renaissance), and she began writing fiction and became affiliated with figures like Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman and Jessie Fauset.
  • Annie Nathan Meyer, founder of Barnard College, founded a scholarship for Hurston.
  • In 1928, she completed her undergraduate education at Barnard College, where she studied under the well- known anthropologist Franz Boas and graduated with a bachelor’s degree.

Columbia University

Educational Achievements

  • In 1928, Hurston was awarded a fellowship by the Rosenwald Foundation for two years’ graduate work in anthropology at Columbia University.
  • In 1939, Zora was awarded an honorary doctorate from Morgan State College.
  • She was appointed the drama instructor at North Carolina College for Negroes at Durham and was invited to join the American Folklore Society, American Ethnological Society, and American Anthropological Society.

Mentors & Influences

Hurston had many important mentors throughout her early life. These mentors and influences ranged from family members and citizens of Eatonville to people she met while studying in college. Hurston’s mentors were very important to her in her everyday life. Without these people in her life, she would most likely not have achieved what she achieved.

Influences in Eatonville

Hurston was surrounded by successful African Americans at an early age. She could look to town hall and see plenty of African American men, including James Hurston, her father, formulating laws and governing Eatonville. When Hurston attended Sunday school in the town churches, she would see strong and successful African American women, including her mother, Lucy Potts Hurston, directing the curriculum of the church. Since Hurston was surrounded by so many successful people at such a young age, she knew it was possible to rise up and be as successful as she wanted to be.

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was a big supporter and good friend of Hurston, and he had a large influence on her life. He once referred to Hurston as an “outrageous woman.”

In 1931, Hurston and Hughes collaborated on the play Mule Bone. Unfortunately, this collaboration led to the end of their relationship when Hurston attempted to submit their play for copyright, listing herself as the sole author.

Lorenzo Dow Hughes

Lorenzo Dow Turner

As Hurston studied and began to develop her writing skills, Lorenzo Dow Turner served as one of her mentors. The head of the English department, Turner worked with Hurston while she studied at Howard University from 1918-24. Turner’s family placed a strong emphasis on education, which inspired Turner to devote his life to education and helped him achieve academic success.

Franz Boas

Franz Boas

A German anthropologist, Franz Boas was a pioneer of modern anthropology who was known for having many students who went on to become very successful in life. Hurston studied anthropology under Boas while at Barnard College in NYC.


Women in History. Zora Neal Hurston biography – extended. (n.d.). Last Updated: 3/9/2010. Lakewood Public Library. Retrieved December 1, 2010,

Boyd, V. (2007). Zora Neale Hurston. Zora Neale Hurston Biography. Retrieved December 1, 2010, from

Reuben, Paul P. “Chapter 9: Zora Neale Hurston ” PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. Retrieved December 1, 2010,

Smith, M., & Kimmens, A. C. (1996). Zora Neale Hurston Biography. World authors, 1900-1950. New York: H.W. Wilson.

Block, M. (1942). Zora Neale Hurston Biography. Current Biography. New York: H.W. Wilson Co..

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Zora Neale Hurston 1891-1960. (n.d.). Howard University . Retrieved December 1, 2010, from

The Influence of Hurston’s Childhood on her Writing

By: Michaela Paris and Brenna McKee

“There is no agony like holding an untold story inside of you.” – Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora’s Beginnings

• Hurston was born on January 7, 1891, in Notasulga, Alabama.
• Her family moved to Eatonville, Florida when Zora was a young child.
• Her writings show that she has no memories of Alabama and spent most of her time in the town of Eatonville.
• Hurston was a free spirit and voiced her opinion even as a child.

Zora Neale Hurston's Family

Zora’s Family

• Hurston’s father was a strict preacher while her mother encouraged her free spirit
• Hurston’s mother passed away in 1904 when she was 13 years old.
• Her father remarried soon after his wife’s passing. Hurston recalls her stepmother as too busy for children and that she came across as cold.

Zora’s Town of Eatonville

• Just outside of Orlando, Eatonville is described by Hurston as “a city of five lakes, three croquet courts, three hundred brown skins, three hundred brown skins, three hundred good swimmers, plenty guavas, two schools and no jail house.” (The Official Zora Neale Hurston Website)
• Eatonville was one of the first towns to incorporate African Americans.
• This was evident when someone like Zora looked around and saw all of the achievements of African Americans in the town
• For example, Zora’s father John worked in Eatonville’s town hall.

Zora’s Writings

• After her studies in Howard University, Hurston went to New York in 1925.
• This was during the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance, which inspired Hurston to write fiction.
• Hurston’s most famous novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, was published in 1937. Her other famous works of literature include Jonah’s Gourd VineMoses Man of the Mountain, and her autobiography Dust Tracks on a Road.

Zora’s Childhood in her Writing

Their Eyes Were Watching God“The sun was gone…It was the time to hear things and talk. These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes had occupied their skins. But now, the sun and the bossman were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human. They became lords of sounds and lesser things. They passed nations through their mouths. They sat in judgment.”

• This quote from Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God reflects Hurston’s childhood in Eatonville, growing up around powerful African-American men such as her father. The men in the story, just like her father and the other men in her life from Eatonville, ran the town when people of other races were not there.

“The familiar people and things had failed her so she hung over the gate and looked up the road towards way off.”

• This quote, also from Their Eyes Were Watching God, refers to the main character looking for a more freeing life. This is something Hurston also searched for growing up with her strict father and cold step mother.

“This freedom is more than a notion Moses. It is a good thing”

• This quote is from Hurston’s Moses, Man of the Mountain. Although slavery is not something Hurston witnessed first hand, growing up she was surrounded by the oppression of African Americans.
• Even some of the events and characters in her stories reflect things in Hurston’s life. One example of this is in Jonah’s Gourd Vine, the main character becomes a pastor for the church, just as her father was.
• It is evident that her childhood relationships, surroundings, and events majorly influenced her most popular books.

Works Cited

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006. Print.

—. Jonah’s Gourd Vine. New York, NY: Perennial Library, 1990. Print.

—. Edited by Henry Louis. Gates. Moses, Man of the Mountain. New York: Harper Perennial, 2009. Print.

Eatonville and Zora Neale Hurston

By Rachel Gonzalez, Sarah Clark, and Krista Rodden

Eatonville Town Hall

History of Eatonville

• On August 15, 1887, 27 registered voters—all black men—met in a building they called Town Hall and voted unanimously to incorporate the town. Eatonville was born and history was made.
• Founded in 1886 by John Clarke.
• First all-black community in the United States.
• Blacks could hold offices and positions of authority.
• Founded by ex-slaves and their families.
• John Hurston helped to form the laws in Eatonville and also held the position of mayor three times.
• Eatonville was one of many established race colonies.
• It was centered on education and religion.
• Many of the people in Eatonville really enjoyed storytelling, which ended up influencing Hurston.

History of Eatonville Schools

• Hungerford was the first school for negroes in Eatonville founded in 1889.
• Students were taught set goals and to and to work toward achievement.
• Russel C. Calhoun and his wife, Mary, founded the school. They attended Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and arrived in Eatonville in 1888. They wanted to start a school just for negro boys and girls. At first, there was only one student, whom they taught basic academic subjects and home economics. They funded the school by farming on the land that was later used to build the school.
• In addition to academics, the students also tended to the crops, maintained the buildings, prepared their meals, and began learning a trade. Vocational training was a large part of the education.
• Edward C. Hungerford, Mary Brown, Booker T. Washington, and George B. Cleutt all donated to help support the Hungerford school.
• In 1905, the campus was made up of 300 acres and ten buildings.
• There were dormitories on campus for girls, boys, and teachers since people would come from all over Florida to attend the school.
• In 1931, the school was almost shut down; however, thanks to Captain L. E. Hall it was saved and restored.
• John and Lillian Hall ran the school starting 1940. They both attended Rust College in Mississippi
• Many of the buildings had issues and were falling apart, which cost the school a lot of money to repair.
• Around 1945, college prep classes were added to the curriculum.
• In 1950, the school was turned over to the Orange County Public School System.
• In 1951, there were many new additions, including an elementary school.
• The school was named one of the top schools in Florida—Hungerford excelled academically, vocationally, and athletically.
• The majority of students went on to college and graduated with degrees for high-paying jobs.
• The students were encouraged to “go forth and serve.” They did countless community service and outreach activities.
• In 1967, the school was changed into an alternative school to provide vocational training and career education for non-college-bound students. Local citizens began to send their children outside the community to traditional high schools. The local residents no longer had ties because the student body was now made up of students from other communities who returned home at the end of the school day.

Zora Neale Hurston

• Born on January 7, 1891
• Moved to Eatonville when she was 3, from Alabama
• In 1904, 13-year-old Zora was devastated by the death of her mother.
• She attended Howard, Bernard, and Columbia Universities
• She studied anthropology
• Most of her stories were derived from events and people in Eatonville, Florida

Their Eyes Were Watching GodHurston in Eatonville

• As Hurston described it, Eatonville is “a city of five lakes, three croquet courts, three hundred brown skins, three hundred good swimmers, plenty guavas, two schools, and no jailhouse.”
• Hurston was never indoctrinated with inferiority.
• She was considered the native daughter of Eatonville.
• She came back to Eatonville after graduating from college to study the townspeople she had grown up with.
• She included painted images of Eatonville in her famous books Mules of Men (1935) and Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

Hurston's grave

Eatonville After Zora

• Hurston brought light and pride to Eatonville and African-Americans all over the country and Eatonville has a lot of cultural importance today.
• She has inspired African-Americans today and other writers such as Toni Morrison, a Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize winning author.
• Hurston’s works were forgotten after her death, but, in 1980, Robert E. Hemenway wrote a literary biography about her that made her popular again.
• In 1988, Orange County officials tried to put a five-lane highway through Eatonville.
• The community planned a Hurston festival to show what the highway would ruin in Eatonville. Thousands of people attended the festival each year and the highway project was eventually cancelled
• History and culture was revived in Eatonville and Hurston was a local hero.

Zora Neale Hurston Festival

Dedications to Zora in Eatonville

• In 2006, a library was named after Hurston and is located on Kennedy Boulevard.
• In 1990, the Zora Neale Hurston Museum of Fine Arts was established. The mission of the museum is “to educate the public about Eatonville’s historic and cultural significance” and “to use the community’s heritage and cultural vibrancy for its economic development”
• The Zora Neale Hurston Festival is held each year in January in Eatonville. Thousands of local residents and tourists attend each year for the multi-day event. The festival holds museum exhibitions, public discussions, concerts, and more to celebrate Hurston’s works.


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Zora Neale Hurston – Against the Norm

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