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27. Zora Neale Hurston

Will Brantley

Subject Literature » American Literature

Place United States of America » American South

Key-Topics women's writing

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631224044.2004.00028.x


The last entry in the Library of America's edition of the works of Zora Neale Hurston is a letter published by the author in the Orlando Sentinel on August 11, 1955. This is the letter in which Hurston famously opposed the 1954 Supreme Court decision to desegregate the public schools. Hurston's views are not unknown to her readers – many of whom would prefer that she had never voiced them – but editor Cheryl Wall must have realized that it was best to let Hurston speak for herself on this issue. As always, Hurston is not without her defining sense of humor: I promised God and some other responsible characters, including a bench of bishops, that I was not going to part my lips concerning the US Supreme Court decision on ending segregation in the public schools of the South. But since a lot of time has passed and no one seems to touch on what to me appears to be the most important point in the hassle, I break my silence just this once. Consider me as just thinking out loud. Hurston then presents her “thoughts”: “The whole matter revolves around the self-respect of my people. How much satisfaction can I get from a court order for somebody to associate with me who does not wish me near them?” Hurston compares the court's ruling to “the doctrine of the white mare,” wherein the mules of the world unthinkingly follow the white horse that has been let in through a “cunning opening of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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