Claiming A Space

Did you know that Zora Neale Hurston is known as the first Black female filmmaker AND anthropologist? Wait. Lemme back up… do you know who Zora Neale Hurston is? I pray that you do. The name of this blog is actually an ode to her.

Zora Neale Hurston is best known as an author and playwright during the Harlem Renaissance. She penned many books: Mules and Men, Jonah’s Gourd Vine, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Dust Tracks On a Road and Every Tongue Got To Confess among others.

Or you may know her latest work, which was published in 2018, Barracoon, amidst the attention focused on the discovery of The Chlotilda ship remains off of Alabama.

I just finished a webinar and panelist discussion about a documentary that is currently streaming, Zora Neale Hurston: Claiming A Space. This short film is dedicated to Neale Hurston’s work as an anthropologist and includes video footage that she shot in the 1920s documenting Black life in the south.

Hurston was a scholar and a pioneer committed to illuminating the lives and importance of Black people in the 20th century. She was also a student of Dr. Franz Boas who changed the paradigm of anthropology from fiction about primitive people in order to justify African enslavement and the removal of indigenous people from their land.

It is an interesting time for this documentary to air given the ongoing erasure of Black contributions to American history in school curricula and the heated debate about Critical Race Theory. This line of thinking is exhausting. Do you know how tiring it is to have to defend your existence? Most people don’t; everyone doesn’t share in this luxury.

I digress. If you’re looking to read great literature or you are an anthropologist or researcher, check out Zora Neale Hurston’s work. You’re welcome.

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