How Zora Neale Hurston Finessed Her Way Into Creating A Powerful Legacy

zora hurston smiling
L. Graciella Maiolatesi
May 15, 2023

Zora Neale Hurston remains one of the most prolific writers in history. Much of what we know about Black southern history, culture, and community comes from her dedication to get to the root of it

But many didn’t recognize her genius at first.

Hurston struggled to receive money for her research, and she couldn’t write without funding. At first the only funding she received came from a wealthy white woman named Mrs. Mason, but Hurston soon learned the consequences that came with this.

Mrs. Mason dictated when Hurston could publish her work and, even more infuriating, tried to police the range of Blackness that Hurston portrayed in her writings. But Hurston didn’t let this stop her. 

Determined to tell stories about the REAL Black South, Hurston took Mrs. Mason’s notes with a grain of salt and finessed the hell outta those dollars to research, write, and publish the rich legacy she left us with.

Anti-Blackness wants us to believe we can only be successful if we receive validation  from white organizations. Like Hurston we should treat all white funding as reparations we’re owed.

Let’s reimagine how we can support our communities so that no one has to rely on anti-Black funding to be successful. When we come together as a community we are rich with resources, wealth, and knowledge.