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You Don't Know Us Negroes and Other Essays

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A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK FROM: Oprah Daily, Business Insider, Marie Claire, The Seattle Times, Lit Hub, Bustle, and New York Magazine’s Vulture

Introduction by New York Times bestselling author Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Spanning more than 35 years of work, the first comprehensive collection of essays, criticism, and articles by the legendary author of the Harlem Renaissance, Zora Neale Hurston, showcasing the evolution of her distinctive style as an archivist and author.

“One of the greatest writers of our time.”—Toni Morrison

You Don’t Know Us Negroes is the quintessential gathering of provocative essays from one of the world’s most celebrated writers, Zora Neale Hurston. Spanning more than three decades and penned during the backdrop of the birth of the Harlem Renaissance, Montgomery bus boycott, desegregation of the military, and school integration, Hurston’s writing articulates the beauty and authenticity of Black life as only she could. Collectively, these essays showcase the roles enslavement and Jim Crow have played in intensifying Black people’s inner lives and culture rather than destroying it. She argues that in the process of surviving, Black people re-interpreted every aspect of American culture—"modif[ying] the language, mode of food preparation, practice of medicine, and most certainly religion.” White supremacy prevents the world from seeing or completely recognizing Black people in their full humanity and Hurston made it her job to lift the veil and reveal the heart and soul of the race. These pages reflect Hurston as the controversial figure she was—someone who stated that feminism is a mirage and that the integration of schools did not necessarily improve the education of Black students. Also covered is the sensational trial of Ruby McCollum, a wealthy Black woman convicted in 1952 for killing her lover, a white doctor.

Demonstrating the breadth of this revered and influential writer’s work, You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays is an invaluable chronicle of a writer’s development and a window into her world and mind.

ISBN-13: 9780063043855

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication Date: 01-18-2022

Pages: 464

Product Dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.70(d)

Zora Neale Hurston was a novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist. She wrote four novels (Jonah’s Gourd Vine, 1934; Their Eyes Were Watching God, 1937; Moses, Man of the Mountain, 1939; and Seraph on the Suwanee, 1948); two books of folklore (Mules and Men, 1935, and Tell My Horse, 1938); an autobiography (Dust Tracks on a Road, 1942); an international bestselling nonfiction work (Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo,” 2018); and over fifty short stories, essays, and plays. She attended Howard University, Barnard College, and Columbia University and was a graduate of Barnard College in 1928. She was born on January 7, 1891, in Notasulga, Alabama, and grew up in Eatonville, Florida. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. An award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, Professor Gates has authored or coauthored twenty-two books and created eighteen documentary films, including Finding Your Roots. His six-part PBS documentary, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, earned an Emmy Award for Outstanding Historical Program-Long Form, as well as a Peabody Award, Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, and NAACP Image Award. M. Genevieve West is Professor of English and Chair of the Department of English, Speech, and Foreign Languages at Texas Woman’s University. A scholar of Zora Neale Hurston’s work, West has contributed to prestigious academic journals such as African American Review, Amerikastudien/American Studies, Receptions, and Women’s Studies. She is the author of one work of literary criticism, Zora Neale Hurston and American Literary Culture, and the editor of Hurston's Harlem Renaissance short stories Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick.

Table of Contents

Editors' Note ix

Introduction 1

Part 1 On the Folk

Bits of Our Harlem 25

High John de Conquer 28

The Last Slave Ship 38

Characteristics of Negro Expression 47

Conversions and Visions 66

Shouting 72

Spirituals and Neo-Spirituals 76

Ritualistic Expression from the Lips of the Communicants of the Seventh Day Church of God 81

Part 2 On Art and Such

You Don't Know Us Negroes 107

Fannie Hurst 117

Art and Such 123

Stories of Conflict 129

The Chick with One Hen 131

Jazz Regarded as Social Achievement 134

Review of Voodoo in New Orleans by Robert Tallant 138

What White Publishers Won't Print 143

Part 3 On Race and Gender

The Hue and Cry About Howard University 151

The Emperor Effaces Himself 173

The Ten Commandments of Charm 182

Noses 184

How It Feels to Be Colored Me 186

Race Cannot Become Great Until It Recognizes Its Talent 191

Now Take Noses 194

Lawrence of the River 196

My Most Humiliating Jim Crow Experience 204

The Lost Keys of Glory 206

The South Was Had 220

Take for Instance Spessard Holland 224

Part 4 On Politics

The "Pet Negro" System 233

Negroes Without Self-Pity 242

The Rise of the Begging Joints 245

Crazy for This Democracy 254

I Saw Negro Votes Peddled 259

Mourner's Bench 270

A Negro Voter Sizes Up Taft 284

Court Order Can't Make Races Mix 296

Which Way the NAACP? 300

Part 5 On the Trial of Ruby McCollum

Zora's Revealing Story of Ruby's 1st Day in Court! 315

Victim of Fate! 321

Ruby Sane! 324

Ruby McCollum Fights for Life 327

Bare Plot Against Ruby 329

Trial Highlights 332

Justice and Fair Play Aim of Judge Adams as Ruby Goes on Trial 334

McCollum-Adams Trial Highlights 336

Ruby Bares Her Love Life 337

Ruby's Story: Doctor's Threats, Tussle over Gun Led to Slaying! 344

Ruby's Troubles Mount: Named in $100,000 Lawsuit! 351

The Life Story of Mrs. Ruby J. McCollum! 354

My Impressions of the Trial 387

Chronological List of Essays 403

Acknowledgments 405

Credits 409

Notes 412

Index 441