35 Zora Neale Hurston Quotes

Zora Neale Hurston at a book fair, New York, circa 1937.

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Zora Neale Hurston was a folklorist and writer. She was part of the Harlem Renaissance, but she never quite fit into the "Black writer" stereotype and was "too Black" for white audiences, so her work fell into obscurity. She wrote such classics as "Their Eyes Were Watching God," and "How it Feels to Be Colored Me."

Alice Walker led a revival of Zora Neale Hurston popularity beginning in the 1970s, and Zora Neale Hurston is now considered among the classic American writers of the 20th century.

On Herself

"I want a busy life, a just mind, and a timely death."

"Through it all, I remain myself."

"I love myself when I am laughing. And then again when I am looking mean and impressive."

"Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It's beyond me."

"I belong to no race nor time. I am the eternal feminine with its string of beads."

"Maybe some of the details of my birth as told me might be a little inaccurate, but it is pretty well established that I really did get born."

"My eyes and my mind keep taking me where my old legs can't keep up."

"I have been in Sorrow's kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and a sword in my hands."

"It is quite exciting to hold the center of the national stage, with the spectators not knowing whether to laugh or to weep."

Wit and Wisdom

"Grab the broom of anger and drive off the beast of fear."

"Learning without wisdom is a load of books on a donkey's back."

"No matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you."

"If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it."

"The present was an egg laid by the past that had the future inside its shell."

"Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. It is a seeking that he who wishes may know the cosmic secrets of the world and they that dwell therein."

"Once you wake up thought in a man, you can never put it to sleep again."

"There is something about poverty that smells like death. Dead dreams dropping off the heart like leaves in a dry season and rotting around the feet."

"Jamaica is the land where the rooster lays an egg."

"Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at de sun.' We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground."

On Life and Living

"No man may make another free."

"It is hard to apply oneself to study when there is no money to pay for food and lodging. I almost never explain these things when folks are asking me why I don't do this or that."

"Happiness is nothing but everyday living seen through a veil."

"There are years that ask questions and years that answer."

"Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. For some, they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing, until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men. Now, women forget all those things they don't want to remember and remember everything they don't want to forget. The dream is the truth. They then act and do things accordingly."

"Those that don't got it, can't show it. Those that got it, can't hide it."

Love and Friendship

"There is nothing to make you like other human beings so much as doing things for them."

"It seems to me that trying to live without friends is like milking a bear to get cream for your morning coffee. It is a whole lot of trouble, and then not worth much after you get it."

"Life is the flower for which love is the honey."

"Love, I find, is like singing. Everybody can do enough to satisfy themselves, though it may not impress the neighbors as being very much."

"Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place."

"When one is too old for love, one finds great comfort in good dinners."

On Race

"I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all."

"I am colored but I offer nothing in the way of extenuating circumstances except the fact that I am the only Negro in the United States whose grandfather on the mother's side was not an Indian chief."

"Someone is always at my elbow reminding me that I am the granddaughter of slaves. It fails to register depression with me."

"I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background."

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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "35 Zora Neale Hurston Quotes." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/zora-neale-hurston-quotes-3530194. Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2023, April 5). 35 Zora Neale Hurston Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/zora-neale-hurston-quotes-3530194 Lewis, Jone Johnson. "35 Zora Neale Hurston Quotes." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/zora-neale-hurston-quotes-3530194 (accessed May 28, 2023).