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 Smith, Doug and Polly LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: Home alone on the Island Yeah, you know who I mean. Hard to start this project without you but deadline looms and you're still bein' Nana, the role you were born to play. I know, I know, if you'd known grandchildren were this much fun, you'd have had them first.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Hamilton, Ken mug HAMILTON: The Bills stadium and the proverbs We are what we are because of the way that we think, and we got the nothingness that have as a result of it.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA DeLuca, Michele mug DELUCA: Say it ain't so, Joe I had just parked my car in front of the Gazette offices on Niagara Street last week Thursday when a man approached me and stood by my door.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Tom T mug TOM'S CORNER: Bringing your own parts to repair shop is a bad idea The Gazette has partnered with local automotive expert Tom Torbjornsen to publish his weekly national column. Tom's Corner will appear in Thursday's editions.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Glynn, Don mug GLYNN: Tourism operators ready for new season Niagara area hospitality industry people will mark National Tourism Week, May 3 to May 11, with special events focusing on the assets that shape the Cataract City as a major destination.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Bradberry, Bill mug BRADBERRY: Neither long ago, nor far away ... If you did not catch documentary filmmaker Ken Burns' latest masterpiece, "The Address" on PBS last night, it will be well worth your time to look for the re-run, or to find it online as soon as possible.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer, Bob Mug CONFER: Don't go soft on teenage criminals New York is one of two states â€" North Carolina being the other â€" that automatically prosecute 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in misdemeanor and felony cases. Other states do so only on a conditional basis at the whim of the presiding judge.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Higgs, Norma mug HIGGS: Gothic architecture -- a fitting structure for church services Before we get involved in the new church building, we need to know what happened to the former structure on First Street which was utilized for St. Peter's Church services for 30 years until 1880 when the present stone church was ready for use.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • GLYNN: Local interest mounts in India's big election A number of people whose families have emigrated from India to the U.S. -- a solid sector of the hotel and restaurant business in the Niagara area -- are expected to hear a message today directly from the homeland.

    April 13, 2014

  • SINGER: Locating the next Shaq or Bird? With hallowed college hoops programs thriving around here, plus March NCAA games held in Buffalo (featuring champ-to-be UConn, upstart Dayton and a winnowed 'Cuse), will some new Shaq or Bird be located?

    April 13, 2014

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
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