“Jump At De Sun”-Zora Neale Hurston


“I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions.”

     – Letter from Zora Neale Hurston to Countee Cullen

Jump At De Sun,” good advice from parent to child; similar to Langston Hughes’s “Mother to Son” poem where the Mom orders her child, “So boy, don’t you turn back. Don’t you set down on the steps ’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.” I used to read that poem all the time in my classroom and other classrooms throughout the school building. It was part of my repertoire as a teacher.

When I was a young woman, about 30, I read everything I could about and by Zora Neale Hurston. I fell in love with “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and that propelled me to learn more about her. She was a very intriguing individual to say the least. Hurston was part of the Harlem Renaissance and she spent many, many years traveling the South, getting to know people, listening carefully to their stories and how they expressed them in their varied dialects and then used those experiences as inspiration for her stories. 

“In Their Eyes Were Watching God, talk is a character in its own right. Janie Starks is, as was Zora Neale Hurston growing up in Eatonville, Fla., immersed in the speech of people who speak freely in towns that are populated and governed almost exclusively by black Americans. In the fictional town created by Hurston, talk is made of “Words walking without masters; walking altogether like harmony in a song.”[2]”-PBS

She went to Howard University; was offered a scholarship to Barnard (Class of 1928) and like so many of the Harlem Renaissance writers, had her share of benefactors that helped support her. It’s so sad that she died in poverty and no marker on her grave. The writer Alice Walker paid to have a headstone placed on Ms Hurston’s grave in 1973 with the epitaph: “Zora Neale Hurston: A Genius of the South.”

Rev. W.A. Jennings, who delivered the eulogy at Zora’s funeral, disagreed with the press in its statement that Miss Hurston died penniless. “Oh, no! She died rich, as her various contributions will live on after she is gone.”-St. Lucie County Online








4 thoughts on ““Jump At De Sun”-Zora Neale Hurston

  1. My students have read Langston Hughes, “Mother to Son,” “A Dream Deferred,” and Zora Neale Hurston’s writings. She is celebrated in nearby Eatonville every January and, someday, I hope to get there for the celebration of her life. She is credited for gathering many of the folk tales popular in the South and writing about them.

    • Yes, she went around and documented all of these stories and oral histories. If I lived near Eatonville, I, too would love to go to the yearly celebration. I never get tired of “Mother to Son” or “A Dream Deferred” and other poems by Langston Hughes. Thanks!

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