Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Public TV Pick of the Week

The public TV pick of the week has been notably absent (due to pledging). Well, it’s back – with one for my literary cohorts.

“American Masters” – which one can count on for fine profiles of American artists in all genres – is presenting Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun on Wednesday, April 9, at 9 p.m. (check local listings).
Writer. Cultural anthropologist. Chronicler of folk roots and ethnic traditions. Daughter of a former slave. The first black graduate of Barnard. Zora Neale Hurston attained unique success in many areas, but during her lifetime her words and conclusions were often surrounded by contention.

A flamboyant and gregarious woman, Hurston – a writer, cultural anthropolotist, chronicler of folk roots and ethnic traditions, and the first black graduate of Barnard – was called unpredictable, outrageous, bodacious. She collaborated with Langston Hughes, was criticized by Richard Wright and ultimately died a pauper’s death in total obscurity.

Resurrected by 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.

Trained as an anthropologist, Hurston was prescient in anticipating the importance of black culture in shaping modern and popular American culture. Along with Alan Lomax during the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1935, she recorded folktales, narratives and music from coastal Georgia into Florida and, later, in the Caribbean and Central America. Jump at the Sun features original footage she filmed during these expeditions.
A bootstrap Republican and conservative, Hurston became increasingly out of step with contemporary black thought, moving to the right while most of black America moved into the Democratic party. Focusing only on what blacks accomplished without government assistance, she opposed welfare and forced integration, believing special treatment was demeaning.

The film includes rare footage of the rural South and interviews with Alice Walker, Dorothy West, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Maya Angelou and individuals who knew Hurston personally. The film also features dramatic re-enactments of Hurston’s 1943 radio interview by actress Kim Brockington, who portrays her in an acclaimed one-woman show, Zora.


Rosa said...

Haven't seen this one, but I've been enjoying the Amelia Earhart over and over again. Fascinating stuff.

Beth Leintz said...

I love American Masters and American Experience. I'll have to set this one up to record. I just discovered American Experience in the last couple of years and I've been catching up via Netflix.

Anonymous said...

she is utterly beautiful! how striking in looks and the conservative political leanings of some blacks during that time were brought to my attention only recently in another book i read. That gave me much food for thought i'll tell you. I am glad to see the "Public TV Pick of the Week" re-emerge in your posts jeanie!

paris parfait said...

Such an interesting woman. Thanks for the heads up! xo

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