it or not, it is Black History month, a time when the establishment
celebrates Marxists such as W.E. Du Bois, Angela Davis, Huey P.
Newton, and an assortment of other radicals. Most mainstream conservatives
search to find famous blacks that they can trumpet as conservative
heroes. Neoconservatives do this by promoting the cult of Martin
Luther King Jr. and have nostalgia for the "golden era"
of the civil rights movement that never existed. Any genuine conservative
or libertarian does not need to be told that King was
clearly always a man of the Left who supported democratic socialism,
reparations for slavery, and affirmative action. Others properly
look towards Booker T. Washington. However there is one African
American who is widely ignored by the Right, largely because she
has become a hero to multiculturalists and organized feminism.
That woman is Zora Neale Hurston.
was born in Eatonville, Florida, a small self-sufficient black
town. Her father was a Baptist minister who would later become
its mayor. She educated herself before attending high school in
Maryland and then college at Howard University, where she was
inspired to start a literary career. She transferred to Barnard
College, where she studied under Franz Boas. For several years,
she traveled around the South, Hati, and Jamaica to collect local
in New York, Hurston became a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance.
The black literary establishment of the time, who Hurston dubbed
"The Niggerati," led by figures such as Richard Wright
and W.E.B. Du Bois, felt that black writers should use their talent
for political aims. In a piece entitled, "Blueprint for Negro
Writers," Wright said that black writers should depict members
of their race as the proletariat and middle class who promoted
black nationalism, but knew "its ultimate aims are unrealizable
within the framework of capitalist America." Hurston and
other writers of Harlem Renaissance completely rejected this vision
as "the sobbing school of Negrohood." and accordingly
wrote stories that celebrated black community and individualism.
first novel Jonah's
Gourd Vine was published in 1934 and praised by the New
York Times as "the most vital and original novel about
the American Negro that has yet been written by a member of the
Negro race." Her next and best-known novel, Their
Eyes were Watching God, came out in 1938 and took
place in her native Eatonville, Florida. In 1939 she wrote Moses,
Man of the Mountain, which combined the biblical
story of Exodus with black folklore. In this book, Hurston sees
Mosesí great accomplishment not just as liberating the Hebrews,
but steeping down from his powerful position. Her 1942 autobiography,
Tracks on the Road, defended the Antebellum South and
condemned Reconstruction. Her final novel, Seraph
on the Suwanee, was published and 1948 and did not have
as much critical or commercial success as her previous works.
World War II, Hurston began to write increasingly about politics.
In 1950 she wrote an article for American Legion entitled
"I saw the Negro Vote Peddled" complaining how leftist
groups and labor unions consistently would try to see blacks as
one homogeneous voting block. In 1951 she wrote another article
for American Legion called "Why the Negro Wonít Buy
Communism" where she attacked Communists who tried to make
blacks as a new proletariat.
an ardent anti-communist, Hurston spoke out against American imperialism.
In a 1945 article for Negro Digest entitled, "Crazy
for this Democracy," she challenged the U.S. foreign policy
aristocrat from Groton and Harvard, using the British language
say " arse-and-all" of Democracy when I thought
he said plain arsenal? Maybe he did, and I have been mistaken
all this time. From what is going on, I think that is what
he must have said.
accused the State Department of using "[o]ur weapons, money,
and the blood of millions" to "carry the English, French,
and Dutch and lead them back on millions of unwilling Asiatics."
Robert Taft went up against the Eastern Establishment for the
Republican presidential nomination, Hurston enthusiastically supported
him. In 1951 she wrote a column for the Saturday Evening Post
entitled "A Negro Voter Sizes Up Taft." She was fed
up with the New Dealers who controlled the country for the last
20 years. The prevailing attitude was that,
who endorsed the Constitution was a "capitalistic reactionary,"
and to admit patriotism was to be classed as a "dirty
chauvinist." Anyone worth a samovar of tea was a "liberal,"
was known as an "intellectual," and went about
talking about "directives" instead of plain orders.
the exposure of many prominent members of the Truman and Roosevelt
administrations as communist spies left them with an opportunity
to reclaim the country. There had been an "American resistance
army for a number of years, a sort of guerilla band doing what
they could do to restore constitutional government" and Taft
could be their leader.
thought that many blacks had been tricked into believing that
anyone who was a liberal was a friend to the blacks. She countered
that Taft was the true liberal, "in the tradition of Thomas
Jefferson", but most people did not see him as such because,
word "liberal" is now an unstable and devious
thing in connotation. For example, card-carrying members
of the Communist Party describe themselves as liberals to
hide their party affiliation. Pinkos and other degrees of
fellow travelers boast of being liberals. Led astray be
leftists, who do not, however, admit they are pro-Kremlin,
great numbers of uninformed persons believe that the perfect
interpretation of term "liberal" is a person who
desires greater Government control and Federal handouts.
that Taft was not exceptionally charismatic or "a peopleís
man, in the popular sense of the term." But Hurston, recognizing
that presidential "giants" were dangerous,
saw this trait as a good thing and harkened back "to the
men who held high office in this republic during the period brought
to close by the advent of Jacksonian democracy" before "the
mob took over."
was criticized for not addressing racial issues, but she hardly
ignored them. She criticized Jim Crow laws, and was well aware
of the many racial problems that existed. However, she thought
that these issues could be addressed by local communities and
within the states, rather than through white northern liberals,
the Federal government, and unconstitutional laws. In a review
of Lance Jonesís, The
Jeanes Teacher in the United States she said,
one finishes the book, it is impossible to believe anything
other than that the New South will work out all its problems.
It is just a matter of effort and time. There is no patronizing
attitude toward a minority group, nor glossing over the unfortunate
facts of the Negro being in part responsible for lack of progress
by his own indifference to consequences. No attempt to make
anything else out of the reconstruction period, but what it
was. A second forceful conquest of the South by the carpetbaggers,
by the setting up of Negro Governments inadequate to their fate,
the inevitable result being immediate chaos and violence and
bitterness that is just now beginning to wane.
she was infuriated when the Federal government decided to Ďsolveí
the Southís problems again. After the Brown v. Board of Education
ruling in 1954, she wrote a letter to the editor of the Orlando
Sentinel condemning it. She was not only upset that about
the constitutional implications of the case, but also that it
would not even help black America. She asked, "How much satisfaction
can I get from a court order for somebody to associate with me
who does not wish me near them?"
civil rights revolution marched on, Hurstonís views began to go
out of favor, and her career suffered because of them. She spent
the last 10 years of her life working as a maid, substitute teacher,
and librarian and died poor in 1960.
admirers of Hurston have a hard time figuring out what to make
of her right-wing beliefs. Most just put it down the memory hole
and pretend they never existed. Alice Walker wrote, "I think
we are better off if we think of Zora Neale Hurston as an artist,
period rather than as the artist/politician most black
writers have been required to be. This frees us to appreciate
the complexity and richness of her work in the same way we can
appreciate Billie Holidayís glorious phrasing or Bessie Smithís
perfect and raunchy lyrics, without the necessity of ridiculing
the formerís addiction to heroin or the laterís(sic) excessive
love of gin." The implication of this statement is clear:
blacks that hold victimologist and collectivist dogma and no literary
talent (such as Walker) should make use of their sub-par artistic
work to preach their propaganda, but we should ignore the beliefs
of someone who many (including Walker) regard as the greatest
black woman author this country has seen because she was a right-wing
individualist. It is also laughable that Walker, an avowed communist
and apologist for murderers
would compare Hurstonís political beliefs to drug addiction.
Neale Hurtston would would be rolling in her grave
if she knew how the Left was portraying her. While she should
be remembered primarily for her literature, her politics should
never be forgotten.