Niece of famous author delivers lively lecture

Niece of famous author delivers lively lecture
Lucy Anne Hurston speaks about her aunt and Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston as part of the Oceanside Public Librarys, “Big Read” program. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — Author and university professor Lucy Anne Hurston delivered a lively lecture on her aunt, Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston, at MiraCosta College on Feb. 18.In storyteller fashion, Hurston shared how she came across a box of Zora Neale Hurston’s books in the family attic at age 9. The books prompted a lot of questions about her fun and spirited aunt.

“I spent the next 30 years in conversation with my father about my Aunt Zora,” Lucy Anne Hurston said. “What shaped her was the perfect storm.”

Lucy Anne Hurston talked about her aunt growing up in the first African American-governed town of Eatonville, Fla., after the abolishment of slavery, facing the death of her mother, and being sent away to work for her education in a boarding school.

Despite childhood challenges, Zora Neale Hurston earned a degree in social anthropology from Bernard College, as one of its few black students, and began writing with contemporaries like Langston Hughes. Her novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” written in 1937, is considered part of the “cannon” of great American literature.

“It’s so important for readers of today and tomorrow,” Lucy Anne Hurston said.

The novel tells of the life transitions the main character goes through as she grows into a woman who is true to herself. Lucy Anne Hurston said the novel reflects the life of her aunt perhaps more than her aunt’s autobiography.

She added that Zora Neale Hurston made all the female characters she wrote about strong individuals.

“As a woman you can do it all, you can do nothing, you can do what you please,” Lucy Anne Hurston said.

She said people should know her aunt was a survivor, who did not give up when faced with the challenges of her era, and the additional challenges being a black woman who grew up poor and in the South.

The lecture by Lucy Anne Hurston was part of the Oceanside Public Library Big Read program that focuses a month of community events around the book selection “Their Eyes Were Watching God.”

Hurston has written a book about her aunt’s life, “Speak So You Can Speak Again.”

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