They were collaborators, literary gadflies, and champions of the common people. They were the leading lights of the Harlem Renaissance. Their names were Zora Neale Hurston (1891 – 1960), the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967), the author of “the Negro Speaks of Rivers” and “Let America Be America Again.” After meeting at a great gathering of black and white literati, the two writers traveled together through the rural South collecting folklore, collaborated on a play, wrote scores of loving letters to one another – and then had a bitter and passionate falling-out. On today’s episode, author Yuval Taylor joins Jacke to talk about his book, Zora and Langston: A Story of Friendship and Betrayal.
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“Dixie Outlandish” and “Piano Between” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
Jean Toomer (1894-1967) was born into a prominent black family in Washington, D.C., but it wasn’t until he returned to the land of agrarian Georgia that he was inspired to write his masterpiece Cane (1923), a towering achievement that went on to influence the writers of the Harlem Renaissance and the Lost Generation. While Toomer’s own life presents a portrait of a man searching for an identity in a world of too-rigid categorization, the confident and self-assured Cane stands for a universality that defies categorization and bridges American divisions. In this episode, host Jacke Wilson reflects upon his own search for identity in small-town Wisconsin, which coincidentally was one of the places where Jean Toomer landed as well.
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“I Been ‘Buked” (trad. Negro Spiritual), performed by the Georgia Spiritual Ensemble.
“Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).