Marc Primus, curator and historian, speaks on the legacy of Langston and Zora and the role they’ve played in African American arts and social justice in America.
Primus provides insight to how Langston and Zora clashed over the collaboration Mule Bone despite their common ideologies.
Both writers sought to represent the voices of Black “folks” and in a Literary canon Primus describes as Black folklore. Primus states, “Whoever we are, we are acceptable to [Langston]…We are beautiful and ugly too.” Zora was also capable of hearing someone’s message with such clarity that she could represent and reflect the speaker voice with pure accuracy.
However, they ultimately failed at “Bone of Contention,” a story began by Zora and Langston as co-writers that should have told the “real story” of Black folklore. Primus also describes how a wealthy, white patron of both Zora and Langston named Charlotte Mason became a catalyst to the two artists’ failed partnership.
Watch the video to hear more.
Whether or not an artist should compromise their values in order to fund their work was a main source of contention between Zora and Langston. Participate or join the conversation when this topic will be discussed in modern day context with Leonard Lopate at Artists and the Business of Art.
Excerpt of Marc Primus was recorded during All Ears with Terrance McKnight, live in The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WQXR.
Part of the 75th anniversary commemoration of the original publication Their Eyes Were Watching God. To herald its place as a seminal work in the American literary tradition, The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC and WQXR presents a multiplatform exploration of the novel by Zora Neale Hurston. Learn more about the full series here.