(I first wrote this post over a week ago, but just publishing it now.)
I bought Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston online for an amazing $4, a little over 6 months ago. It is a reproduction of her personal scrapbook and photos curated by her niece, Lucy Anne Hurston, presented almost in picture book form. I first saw it at some rare bookshop, selling for $80 or something like that, and my pockets weren’t having that even though my heart needed to be having it. So, alas, I found it for a whopping $4 plus $3.95 shipping. I’ve become quite skilled in the art of pinching rare books right before they skyrocket in price, so I suggest you purchase this book as soon as you’re done reading this fantastic post.
I’m so attached to this renditioned scrapbook book of Zora’s life. It connects me to my great grandmother, whom I know only through her scrapbooks, in my possession. I’ve been wanting to make a remake of my grandmother’s scrap books, letters, and photographs for archival purposes. So when I came across Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston I knew I had to have it. Not only does Zora give me crafted memories of my great grandmother, but she also is a biographical figure I wanted to share with my Kindergarten students. I steep heavy in history in the K2 classroom. It’s the genre I’ve observed to be the most engaging to the students. They gravitate towards truth, perhaps from the deprivation of it in our mainstream cultures that engulf their precious lives.
I kept this book on a high shelf in the classroom, far enough away to keep safe from sticky crayon-holding hands, yet close enough to be in eye’s view as to contribute to the visual ambience of our classroom.
However, I have left the classroom this past week, for reasons that I won’t get into on a public blog post; but I will tell you this: I’ve quoted Zora at least three times over the past two weeks, when rationalizing my radical reasons for departing from my oppressive work environment. Even the title of her remade scrapbook, Speak, So You Can Speak Again, embodies all my reasons for demonstrating a moratorium from the classroom. And earlier this evening, while I was finishing cleaning out my belongings from the learning space, I saw this precious book. My heart sunk for a breve sec knowing that I never got to share it with my students. So, to suffice my softened heart, I blog about it now.
Here, I will share with you, in photos, why I associate Zora Neale Hurston with Gladys Golden Weaver.
Both Zora Neale Hurston and Gladys Golden Weaver were born in the 1890’s and raised in the south (Hurston Florida, Weaver Virginia), and both moved to New York for the Harlem Renaissance, but both not before spending time in D.C. and Maryland. Both also spent time living with other relatives during the first decade of the 20th century. “Zora spent the following years in the homes of first one sibling, then another…She was hungry for books to read, ideas to explore, and creative expression. She was young, female, and dependent, but failed to display the humility necessary to make those who provided for her feel that she was sufficiently grateful.” – Lucy Anne Hurston, Speak, So You Can Speak Again. Pg. 12. The above quote conveys the same character of Gladys’ letter to her mother, whom she wrote while residing with some relatives in Richmond, Virginia, 1907.
Both the famous Zora and the personal Gladys taught me about American culture, politics, and history; neither less of a historic-informative than the other. If you have the honor of teaching children, this year, guide them heavily in their learning of history. Not just the published histories, but their familial histories as well.
Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher.