John H. McWhorter, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute has written a great article on the life of the black libertarian and social critic Zora Neale Hurston. The article was written for The City Journal and is entitled “Thus Spake Zora”. Below is an excerpt of the article the original can be found at The City Journal’s main website.
Thus Spake Zora – Zora Neale Hurston’s writing challenged black people as well as white.
One of the last photos of Zora Neale Hurston, taken in the late fifties, is heartrending. Once renowned as a handsome figure who could dominate any room, she sits outside a Florida bungalow, a bloated old woman living in poverty, chatting with locals.
As sanguine as she looks, we can’t help wishing that she had been in New York, plugging her latest novel on The Jack Paar Show.
But all her books were out of print, and she was supporting herself on piddling jobs, including working as a maid (not for the first time). She seems to have reached the state of mind that her character Janie describes at the end of her masterwork, Their Eyes Were Watching God: “Ah done been tuh de horizon and back and now Ah kin set heah in mah house and live by comparisons.”