Finding Zora in a Connecticut Niece

Danielle Campbell | March 25th, 2024

Finding Zora in a Connecticut Niece

Black History Month  |  Arts & Culture  |  Arts, Culture & Community


Lucy Ann Hurston is an author and niece of Zora Neale Hurston. Danielle Campbell Photos.

Lucy Ann Hurston grew up listening her father, Everett, tell stories about her Aunt Zora. 

Yes. That Zora.

Hurston is the niece of famed author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. She also is the author of adult pop-up book she created from artifacts she found in her father’s attic about her legendary aunt.

She spoke about her book, Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston as part of the Stetson Library’s Black History Month activities along with Sharde M. Davis, author of Being Black at the Ivory. Hurston's story of being a college professor is captured in Davis' book.

Hurston followed her aunt into the social sciences and became a sociologist, noting in her talk that both sociology and anthropology are disciplines that examine social life and the world around us.

“Who we are, how we fit into it. Who are those people next to us on either side that are not like us?” she said. “And that is why it is such a powerful tool.”


Hurston speaks to a crowd gathered at the Stetson Library.

Hurston said learning about her aunt’s life inspired her and made her a bit envious of a woman who was a leader of the Harlem Renaissance and whose writing was plucked from obscurity by fellow Black woman author, Alice Walker, so that today it exists in the Western canon of literature.

“I was so jealous,” she recalled of learning about her famed aunt during her own coming of age. “I wanted that life. I wanted to live that life. Okay. I wanted to know what inspired her. At that age, as I'm starting to find out about her and find out about me. Okay. It becomes her in the front driver's seat or me in the front driver’s seat.”

IMG_4353The book Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston is like a love letter to those who love her aunt. Featuring replicated pages from Zora Neale Hurston’s personal notes, letters, and other ephemera, the book provides clues into the life and mind of Zora Neale Hurston that only a family member could give to her fans. 

 Lucy Ann Hurston does not claim to know everything she can about her aunt, pointing out that many people have studied her more than she has. She said her book is a way for people to have a piece of her aunt in whatever way she shows up for them. 

“I do not claim to be an all-knowing Hurston scholar,” she said. “What's lovely about this book is that this is for people who know Zora. Know her intimately and want to have like your own personal scrapbook.”

Manmita Dutta, director of advancement for the New Haven Free Public Library Foundation, said she did not know of Zora Neale Hurston before coming to the United States from India. But she had “a deep interest in Black History and the Civil Rights Movement.”

“The nonviolent freedom movement of the Indians against the British colonial rule had inspired Dr. King,” Dutta said. “And as a South Asian immigrant, I stand on the shoulders of those brave women and men who fought with relentless passion and courage, breaking down barriers and opening doors for immigrants of color like myself.”

Dutta said she attended the book talk because she couldn’t miss the opportunity to hear about Zora Neale Hurston from a member of her family. 

“This talk reminded me again about the courage and determination of those [who] came before us and accomplished great things under the most hostile circumstances," Dutta said. "We need to respect their legacy by practicing courage, creativity, and fairness."