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Zora Neale Hurston, an African American cultural giant who wrote Their Eyes Are Watching God, is the subject of today’s Google Doodle. The writer and activist would be celebrating her 123rd birthday today.
She was born in Alabama, but grew up in the Florida town of Eatonville. She first attended college at Howard University in Washington D.C. before transferring to New York’s Barnard College.
The Christian Science Monitor notes that she was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance, thanks to her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. Her other works include Moses, Man of the Mountain, Seraph on the Suwannee and Jonah’s Gourd Vine. Another important work is Mules and Men, which was written after she made a return trip to Eatonville.
Hurston is considered one of the most influential writers of the previous century, notes Time Magazine, which listed Their Eyes Are WAtching God on its 2010 list of the 100 greatest English-language novels. “I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions,” she once wrote in a letter.
Hurston died in 1960 at age 69.