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American Masters: Zora Neale Hurston: Jump At The Sun

Airs Monday, February 22, 2010 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Writer, cultural anthropologist, chronicler of folk roots and ethnic traditions, daughter of former slaves, Zora Neale Hurston was one of the most celebrated — and most controversial — figures of the Harlem Renaissance.

Zora playing drum in a photo in the New York Herald Tribune.
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Above: Zora playing drum in a photo in the New York Herald Tribune.

Writer, cultural anthropologist, chronicler of folk roots and ethnic traditions, daughter of a former slave, Hurston was one of the most celebrated — and most controversial — figures of the Harlem Renaissance, the creatively expansive era in the 1920s when “the Negro was in vogue.” She attained unique success in all areas, but her words and her conclusions were often mired in contention — she was called everything from flamboyant to outrageous, unpredictable to bodacious.

She collaborated with Langston Hughes, was criticized by Richard Wright and ultimately died a pauper’s death in total obscurity. Now considered a lioness of African-American literature, she was resurrected by Alice Walker; such works as "Dust Tracks on a Road" and "Their Eyes Were Watching God" are essential reading today.

S. Epatha Merkerson (“Law & Order”) narrates the program.

Watch exclusive footage and deleted scenes online.

Video

Video Excerpt: Zora Neale Hurston: Jump At The Sun

Above: This definitive film biography portrays Zora Neale Hurston in all her complexity: gifted, flamboyant, and controversial but always fiercely original.