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American Masters presents Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun

Airs Monday, February 22, 2010 at 10 p.m.

Above: Zora Neale Hurston

Writer and cultural anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston was successful in many areas, yet her words and conclusions were often surrounded by contention. “American Masters” ‘ presentation of “Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun” tells of her life, which included being the daughter of a former slave, a chronicler of folk roots and ethnic traditions and the first black graduate of Barnard College. Actor S. Epatha Merkerson of television series “Law & Order” narrates.

A flamboyant and gregarious woman, she was considered to be bodacious and unpredictable. Hurston collaborated with author Langston Hughes, was criticized by poet Richard Wright and ultimately died a pauper’s death in total obscurity. Resurrected by writer Alice Walker, who journeyed to Hurston’s gravesite in 1975 after reading a dog-eared copy of Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston is now considered a lioness of African-American literature. Her works "Dust Tracks on a Road" and "Their Eyes Were Watching God" are essential reading in American classrooms today.

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