Today’s Google logo is a tribute to one of the 20th century’s most celebrated African American female writers, Zora Neale Hurston.
Best known for her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston’s body of work included four novels, two book of folklore, and an autobiography. She also published a number of short stories, essays, articles and plays.
Hurston graduated with a degree in anthropology from Barnard, and would collect much of her writing material while working as an anthropologist, traveling through the southern states, Jamaica, Haiti, Honduras and other parts of Central America. In the mid 1920s, she would move to New York City and become one of the writers central to the Harlem Renaissance movement, along with Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman, and W.E.B. Du Bois.
Hurston was born on January 7, 1891 in Notasulga, Alabama, but her family soon moved to Eatonville, Florida, the first incorporated black township. According to ZoraNealeHurston.com, Hurston would claim it was, “A city of five lakes, three croquet courts, three hundred brown skins, three hundred good swimmers, plenty guavas, two schools, and no jailhouse.”
Even after much acclaim and a lifelong literary career, Hurston would die at the age of 69 with very little to her name. The author of classics like Jonah’s Gourd Vine, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Tell My Horse and Moses, Man of the Mountain was buried in 1960 with an unmarked grave.
Thirteen years after Hurston’s death, Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, found Hurston’s unmarked grave, and placed a grey headstone with the words, “Zora Neale Hurston: A Genius of the South.”