Quotes by Zora Neale Hurston
Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Zora Neale Hurston. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.
Wikipedia Summary for Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891 – January 28, 1960) was an American author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. She portrayed racial struggles in the early-1900s American South and published research on hoodoo. The most popular of her four novels is Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937. She also wrote more than 50 short stories, plays, and essays.
Hurston was born in Notasulga, Alabama, and moved with her family to Eatonville, Florida, in 1894. She later used Eatonville as the setting for many of her stories. It is now the site of the "Zora! Festival", held each year in her honor.
In her early career, Hurston conducted anthropological and ethnographic research while a student at Barnard College and Columbia University. She had an interest in African-American and Caribbean folklore, and how these contributed to the community's identity.
She also wrote fiction about contemporary issues in the black community and became a central figure of the Harlem Renaissance. Her short satires, drawing from the African-American experience and racial division, were published in anthologies such as The New Negro and Fire!! After moving back to Florida, Hurston wrote and published her literary anthology on African-American folklore in North Florida, Mules and Men (1935), and her first three novels: Jonah's Gourd Vine (1934); Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937); and Moses, Man of the Mountain (1939). Also published during this time was Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica (1938), documenting her research on rituals in Jamaica and Haiti.
Hurston's works concerned both the African-American experience and her struggles as an African-American woman. Her novels went relatively unrecognized by the literary world for decades. Interest was revived in 1975 after author Alice Walker published an article, "In Search of Zora Neale Hurston", in the March issue of Ms. magazine that year. Hurston's manuscript Every Tongue Got to Confess, a collection of folktales gathered in the 1920s, was published posthumously in 2001 after being discovered in the Smithsonian archives. Her nonfiction book Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo", about the life of Cudjoe Lewis (Kossola), was published posthumously in 2018.
No man may make another free.
Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.
There is something about poverty that smells like death.
There is something about poverty that smells like death. Dead dreams dropping off the heart like leaves in a dry season and rotting around the feet; impulses smothered too long in the fetid air of underground caves. The soul lives in sickly air. People can be slaveships in shoes.
No matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond.
No matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you.
John will never forsake the weak and the helpless, nor fail to bring hope to the hopeless. That is what they believe, and so they do not worry. They go on and laugh and sing. Things are bound to come out right tomorrow. That is the secret of Negro song and laughter.
I do not share the gloomy thought that Negroes in America are doomed to be stomped out bodaciously, nor even shackled to the bottom of things. Of course some of them will be tromped out, and some will always be at the bottom, keeping company with other bottom-folks.
Everybody is two beings: one lives and flourishes in the daylight and stands guard. The other being walks and howls at night.
The one who makes the idols never worships them, however tenderly he might have molded the clay. You cannot have knowledge and worship at the same time. Mystery is the essence of divinity. Gods must keep their distances from men.
For the first time she could see a man's head naked of its skull. Saw the cunning thoughts race in and out through the caves and promontories of his mind long before they darted through the tunnel of his mouth.
Now, women forget all the things they don't want to remember, and remember everything they don't want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.
If it was so honorable and glorious to be black, why was it the yellow-skinned people among us had so much prestige?
So I do not pray. I accept the means at my disposal for working out my destiny. It seems to me that I have been given a mind and will power for that very purpose.
You tries tuh be so much-knowin'. You got tuh learn how tuh speak when you spokin to, come when youse called.
Ah ain't got tuh do but two things -- stay black and die, Sister Berry snapped.
They made burning statements with questions, and killing tools out of laughs. It was mass cruelty. A mood come alive. Words walking without master.
There is no single face in nature, because every eye that looks upon it, sees it from its own angle. So every man's spice-box seasons his own food.
I have a strong suspicion . that much that passes for constant love is a golded- up moment walking in its sleep.
Finally, she grew quiet. After that, coherent thought. With this, stalked through her a cold, bloody rage; Hours of this; a period of introspection; a space of retrospection; then a mixture of both. Out of this, an awful calm.
Jes' 'cause women folks ain't got no big muscled arm and fistes like jugs, folks claim they's weak vessels, but dass uh lie. Dat piece uh red flannel she got hung 'tween her jaws is equal tuh all the fistes God ever made and man ever seen.
But as de old folks always say, Ah'm born but Ah ain't dead. No tellin' whut Ah'm liable tuh do yet.
I began to worry a bit. Ella kept on hurling slurs. So I said, Come on, Big Sweet, we got to go to home.
Nope, Ah ain't got to do nothin' but die and stay black.
She hated the old woman who had twisted her so in the name of love. Most humans didn't love one another nohow, and this mislove was so strong that even common blood couldn't overcome it all the time.
But I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all.
I have been amazed by the Anglo-Saxon's lack of curiosity about the internal lives and emotions of the Negroes, and for that matter, any non-Anglo-Saxon peoples within our borders, above the class of unskilled labor.
When the people sat around on the porch and passed around the pictures of their thoughts for the others to look at and see, it was nice. The fact that the thought pictures were always crayon enlargements of life made it even nicer to listen to.
Why fear? The stuff of my being is matter, ever changing, ever moving, but never lost; so what need of denominations and creeds to deny myself the comfort of all my fellow men? The wide belt of the universe has no need for finger-rings. I am one with the infinite and need no other assurance.
Two things everybody's got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin' fuh theyselves.
I am colored but I offer nothing in the way of extenuating circumstances except the fact that I am the only Negro in the United States whose grandfather on the mother's side was not an Indian chief.
Being under my own roof, and my personality not invaded by others makes a lot of difference in my outlook on life and everything. Oh, to be once more alone in a house!
Then you must tell 'em dat love ain't somethin' lak uh grindstone dat's de same thing everywhere and do de same thing tuh everything it touch. Love is lak de sea. It's uh movin' thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it's different with every shore.
It would be against all nature for all the Negroes to be either at the bottom, top, or in between. We will go where the internal drive carries us like everybody else. It is up to the individual.
And I can't die easy thinking maybe the menfolks white or black is making a spit cup out of you. Have some sympathy for me. Put me down easy, Janie, I'm a cracked plate.
Janie had robbed him of his illusion of irresistible maleness that all men cherish, which was terrible.
It is hard to apply oneself to study when there is no money to pay for food and lodging. I almost never explain these things when folks are asking me why I don't do this or that.
The morning air was like a new dress. That made her feel the apron tied around her waist. She untied it and flung it on a low bush beside the road and walked on, picking flowers and making a bouquet… From now on until death she was going to have flower dust and springtime sprinkled over everything.
Women forget all the things they don't want to remember, and remember everything they don't want to forget.
Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches.
Now they got to look into me loving Tea Cake and see whether it was done right or not! They don't know if life is a mess of corn-meal dumplings, and if love is a bed-quilt!
It seemed to me that the human beings I met reacted pretty much the same to the same stimuli. Different idioms,yes. Circumstances and conditions having power to influence, yes. Inherent difference, no.
Please God, please suh, don't let him love nobody else but me. Maybe Ah'm is uh fool, Lawd, lak dey say, but Lawd, Ah been so lonesome, and Ah been waitin', Jesus. Ah done waited uh long time.
I have known the joy and pain of friendship. I have served and been served. I have made some good enemies for which I am not a bit sorry. I have loved unselfishly, and I have fondled hatred with the red-hot tongs of Hell. That's living.
Someone is always at my elbow reminding me that I am the granddaughter of slaves. It fails to register depression with me.
Someone is always at my elbow reminding me that I am the grand-daughter of slaves. It fails to register depression with me. Slaver y is sixty years in the past. The operation was successful and the patient is doing well, thank you. The terrible struggle that made me an American out of a potential slave said "On the line!" The Reconstruction said "Go!" I am off to a flying start and I must not halt in the stretch to look behind and weep.
You know they say a white man git in some kind of trouble, he'll fret and fret until he kill hisself. A n****r git into trouble, he'll fret for a while, then g'wan to sleep.
Dat's de reason de sister in black works harder than anybody else in the world. De white man tells de n****r to work and he takes and tells his wife.
Perhaps love is a compelling necessity imposed on man by God that has something to do with suffering.
I made up my mind to keep my feelings to myself since they did not seem to matter to anyone else but me.
Her old thoughts were going to come in handy now, but new words would have to be made and said to fit them.
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.
Love is like the sea. It's a moving thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from the shore it meets, and it's different with every shore.
Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. It is a seeking that he who wishes may know the cosmic secrets of the world and they that dwell therein.
All of the people took it up and sung it over and over until it was wrung dry, and no further innovations of tone and tempo were conceivable. Then they hushed and ate barbecue.
While I was in the research field in 1929, the idea of Jonah's Gourd Vine came to me. I had written a few short stories, but the idea of attempting a book seemed so big that I gazed at it in the quiet of the night, but hid it away from even myself in daylight.
It seems to me that organized creeds are collections of words around a wish. I feel no need for such. I know that nothing is destructible; things merely change forms. When the consciousness we know as life ceases, I know that I shall still be part and parcel of the world.
I thought that when they said Atlantic Charter, that meant me and everybody in Africa and Asia and everywhere. But it seems like the Atlantic is an ocean that does not touch anywhere but North America and Europe.
She didn't read books so she didn't know that she was the world and the heavens boiled down to a drop.
Tain't no use in you cryin' ... But folks is meant to cry 'bout somethin' or other. Better leave things de way dey is. Youse young yet. No tellin' whut mout happen befo' you die.
Looka heah, Tea Cake, if you ever go off from me and have a good time lak dat and then come back heah tellin' me how nice Ah is, Ah specks tuh kill yuh dead. You heah me?
For four hundred years the blacks of Haiti had yearned for peace. for three hundred years the island was spoken of as a paradise of riches and pleasures, but that was in reference to the whites to whom the spirit of the land gave welcome. Haiti has meant split blood and tears for blacks.
The very best place to be in all the world is St. Mary's parish, Jamaica. And the best spot in St. Mary's is Port Maria, though all of St. Mary's is fine. Old Maker put himself to a lot of trouble to make that part of the island of Jamaica, for everything there is perfect.
I love myself when I am laughing.
I love myself when I am laughing... and then again when I am looking mean and impressive.
We proaged on thru the woods that was full of magnolia, pine, cedar, oak, cypress, hickory, and many kinds of trees whose names I do not know. It is hard to know all the trees in Florida.
Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at the sun.' We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.
Love, I find, is like singing. Everybody can do enough to satisfy themselves, though it may not impress the neighbors as being very much.
I have been in Sorrow's kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and sword in my hands.
So the brother in black offers to these United States the source of courage that endures, and laughter.
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