Zora Neale Hurston, a black writer, ethnographer, presumed lesbian and all-around badass, was born on this day in 1891. Hurston’s most famous work, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is required reading in classrooms across the nation.
Hurston is said to have lived and wrote out of the context of white people, meaning that she did not study black people in relation to white people, but black people as their own, independent culture. She also opposed the Supreme Court decision on Brown v. the Topeka Board of Education, which integrated schools and declared “separate is not equal,” because she believed it told black teachers that they were not good enough to teach black students.
She also heavily studied the voodoo and hoodoo culture in New Orleans and was an up-and-comer during the Harlem Renaissance. Her works, which fell into oblivion following her death, were revived by Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple.