Marvin Hobson, president of the Zora Neale Hurston Education Foundation and an
associate professor of English and modern languages at Indian River State College,
works to bring light to Hurston’s influence on the African American community.
Honduras, Haiti and Jamaica, with support from the
Guggenheim Foundation, and published four novels,
more than 50 short stories, plays and essays. Hurston
was born in Alabama, but raised in Eatonville, Florida.
The Central Florida town, not far from Orlando, was
incorporated as an all-black town in the late 1800s.
So, it only follows that, after much enjoyment during
her research years, she moved herself back to Florida
in her final decade of life. More specifically, Hurston
landed in the city of Fort Pierce.
During her time in Fort Pierce, Hurston earned a
living as a freelance writer for newspapers and magazines
and also spent some time working as a teacher at
Lincoln Park Academy, then the high school attended
by the city’s African American students under the
“separate, but equal” rules of the day.
“She was my teacher for 10th grade and part of
11th,” said Marjorie Harrell, historian and President
Emeritus for the foundation. “I remember, she would
give out an assignment and then be buried in her writing.
I didn’t realize until later in life who she was.”
While her works were not very well-known when
she lived in Fort Pierce, they were later recognized
and have been highly celebrated after her death. Some
of her more recognized works include the novel,
Their Eyes Were Watching God, a story detailing the
disastrous Hurricane of 1928 that struck Florida with
many inches of rain leading to the flooding of Lake
Okeechobee resulting in many drowning deaths, and
her non-fiction work, Mules and Men.
“When Zora died, life just began,’’ Hobson said. >>
The education foundation recently was gifted the former St. Lucie County Welfare Home, where Hurston died. The foundation plans to renovate the structure
on North Ninth Street and create a multi-use enrichment and community center with a tribute to Hurston.