Thursday, 11 February 2010

relishing the pleasure of each others company

Reposted from WomenArts...

In 1935 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt launched an economic stimulus program called the Works Progress Administration (WPA) with a goal of giving people "self-respect and self-reliance" by giving them meaningful jobs.

Zora Neale Hurston's WPA Legacy

Zora Neale Hurston worked on the WPA Folklore project, recording folk songs and stories in the black communities of Florida and preserving oral traditions that might otherwise have been lost. The recordings are now available online in the Florida Memory State Library and Archives. (See

It is amazing to hear one of the finest writers of the Harlem Renaissance singing these songs as part of her government job during the depths of the Great Depression. Alice Walker once wrote that Hurston's great gift was to show her people "relishing the pleasure of each other's loquacious and bodacious company."

In the link below, you can hear Hurston describe and sing the song Halimuhfack. Even though it is a scratchy 75-year-old recording, you can still hear that pleasure and her loving attention to the details of cultural expression in her community.

No comments: