"You got to go there to know there.”
The Greene Space Team took Zora’s words to heart and headed down to Eatonville, Florida (a small town 6 miles north of Orlando, Florida) in January 2012 to walk in the footsteps of the woman who was called “A Genius of the South.” Ricardo Fernandez, David McLean, Eric Camins, Norman Small and I joined thousands of people who descended on Zora’s hometown from all over the country and the world to pay homage to this extraordinary 20th century writer, folklorist and anthropologist during the 23rd Annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival. One woman described her as a lotus flower—a thing of beauty that emerged out of the muck.
Zora writes about the muck in Their Eyes Were Watching God. Eatonville emerged out of the muck of slavery; it was a place envisioned and incorporated by 27 Black men 125 years ago post-Emancipation. Zora’s story—like Eatonville’s--is one of resilience, of complexity, challenge and humor. Her/story takes us through a multifaceted narrative on what it means to be a Black woman in the South; a Black women who was part of a Great Migration and a Great Depression in the midst of a burgeoning cultural era that we know as the Harlem Renaissance. I hope that people will be as touched by the stories that we heard about Zora, as we were.