Niagara Gazette

Columns

February 19, 2014

BRADBERRY: Zora Neale Hurston and R. Nathaniel Dett, folklorists

Niagara Gazette —

Life can be so short, yet so full, I thought as I stood reading the headstone, “Genius of the South, 1901 – 1960, Novelist, Folklorist, Anthropologist” atop Zora Neal Hurston’s grave in Fort Pierce, Florida where she died poor and penniless in the County Home on Thursday January 28, 1960.

Hurston, author of at least ten books, novels, dozens of short stories and plays including the best seller “Their Eyes Were Watching God” grew up in tiny segregated, all black Eatonville, in Orange County, Florida (http://www.townofeatonville.com/) not far from Sanford where, seventeen year old Travon Martin died, not far from Jacksonville, Florida where the seventeen year old was slain.

Historic Eatonville, “The Town That Freedom Built, the oldest incorporated African American municipality in America, Established in 1887”, brags the sign that greets travelers as they approach, “One of the 25 Cultural Tourism success stories in the United States.”

Historic indeed!

I had that same feeling nearly a decade ago while I stood at the foot of R. Nathaniel Dett’s (“Listen to the Lambs”) grave just a few miles from where he lived much of his early life in Niagara Falls, not far from the crossings where Tubman and others traversed in search of some modicum of relief from slavery’s heavy chains in Canada.

Hurston and Dett have a lot in common; they traveled in the same literary circles during the Harlem Renaissance, a particularly active period, named after a1925 anthology by Alain Locke though Hurston frequently challenged Dett to write and perform more “spiritual music” rooted more in the tradition of the people than the “neo spirituals” which she considered to be the outgrowth of “glee clubs.”

Though their styles varied, Hurston and Dett wrote about the struggles of being black in America during extraordinarily hard times; both were folklorists, one in music and song, the other in prose, both master story-tellers, writing the very stuff that history is made of.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • NIA Higgs, Norma mug HIGGS: A cupcake gets the Niagara Beautification Commission spotlight Not a cupcake per se, but a cute shop in LaSalle operated by a "sweet" lady who is a real dynamo when it comes to running a business.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Glynn, Don mug [Duplicate] GLYNN: A key factor in luring the convention A natural wonder in the nation's oldest state park isn't the lone factor for selecting Niagara Falls as a convention site.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • SINGER: Regional poetry and sad realities If that isn't (or wasn't) poetry, I don't know what is! I'm referring to the self-satisfied, sluggish trot of ice chunks emanating from Lake Erie in early May 2014 -- sauntering, it felt, along the lovely Niagara.

    July 27, 2014

  • NIA Smith, Doug and Polly LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: Quest for an appointment comes up short We're rolling up our sleeves for Quest. The Big Mac of blood tests, the Tops of tourniquets, the Sears of screenings, opens on our Island at Monday's crack of dawn.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Davis, Vincent mug VINCENT DAVIS: Pledge your allegiance to the Slurpee, America's treat By now you must be aware that it is, in fact, summer. And since summer is a season not characterized by any obvious weather events (sometimes it's hot for days in a row, sometimes you get a bunch of rainy days and chilly nights) but instead activities, I'd like to bring attention to an underrated staple of summer sun enjoyment: Consuming the brain freeze-inducing snack classic, the Slurpee.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Hamilton, Ken mug HAMILTON: Popeye's '7-Minute' guide to educating southerners -- and me! Writer Mark Twain said that when he 14, his father was so ignorant that he could hardly stand to have the old man around. But upon turning 21, Twain said that he was astonished by how much his father had learned in just seven years.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA DeLuca, Michele mug DELUCA: Wegmans call warns of bad fruit I was humming to myself the other day, getting ready for work on a lovely summer morning, when I decided to check my messages on the house phone. I hit the play button and heard a message from Wegmans warning me about some fruit that I had bought at their store. As quick as that, a message with the scary potential to change my life or the life of someone I love.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Glynn, Don mug GLYNN: Ortt jumps on drive to repeal the SAFE Act It was a no-brainer for North Tonawanda Mayor Rob Ortt, a Republican candidate for the 62nd Senate District seat, to join the forces to repeal the state's SAFE Act.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Verplank: Turn back the clock at the Porter Cup

    July 24, 2014

  • NIA Bradberry, Bill mug BRADBERRY: Tourists attracted here by history, beauty, politics As my friend and colleague, writer Don Glynn has so artfully portrayed over the decades, "For many years after the dawn of aviation, U.S. presidents visiting Western New York started at the Niagara Falls Airport. The reason: The main runway here was longer than that of the Buffalo airport and could easily accommodate Air Force One, the presidential aircraft."

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page