(Kansas City, Missouri) - Fifty-five years after her death in Florida—where penniless despite her success, she was laid to rest in an unmarked grave—Zora Neale Hurston remains a pillar of American literature.
The latest installment of the Kansas City Public Library's Emmy Award-winning series, Meet the Past with Crosby Kemper III, spotlights this essential figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and author of the seminal Their Eyes Were Watching God. Kemper, the Library's director, holds a public conversation with Hurston as portrayed by longtime Johnson County Community College professor and Hurston scholar Carmaletta Williams on Wednesday, February 25, 2015, at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
The 6:30 p.m. presentation will be recorded by KCPT-TV for later broadcast.
With a fiery intellect, an infectious sense of humor and, as one friend put it, "the gift of walking into hearts," Hurston elbowed her way into the Harlem Renaissance, befriending such luminaries as Langston Hughes and emerging as one herself. She wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God, her classic novel about the life of a fiercely independent Southern black woman through three marriages, poverty, and other trials, in 1937.
Over a career as a writer, folklorist, and anthropologist that spanned more than 30 years, Hurston published three other novels, two books of folklore, an autobiography, numerous short stories, and several essays, articles and plays.
Williams, recently retired from Johnson County Community College after serving 26 years as a professor of English, has focused her academic interest in part on Hurston, the Missouri-born Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance. Williams has performed a one-woman play, Zora Neale Hurston: Queen of the Harlem Renaissance, throughout the Midwest and took part in a series of presentations of classic African American literature at the Library's L.H. Bluford Branch in 2011.
Major funding for this episode of Meet the Past is provided by the Enid and Crosby Kemper Foundation, UMB Bank, n.a., Trustee.
A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. Admission is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th and Baltimore.