Robert Hemenway: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston

The Kansas City Public Library hosted Robert Hemenway for a discussion called Jump at the Sun: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston on Tuesday, October 6, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.

Before the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP), Zora Neale Hurston was a prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance and published her masterwork Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) while researching ethnology in Haiti. In April 1938, she became an editor for the Florida edition of the American Guide series and supervisor for the Negro unit of the state FWP. The Library of Congress retains several songs and oral histories Hurston recorded during her brief tenure. Though she died impoverished and obscure, her works influenced a generation of writers, including Alice Walker.

In association with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association, the Kansas City Public Library commemorated the 75th anniversary of this New Deal program with a series of free events throughout September and October 2009, including a screening of the documentary Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story.

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