Speak, So You Can Speak Again

Speak, So You Can Speak Again : The Life of Zora Neale Hurston
Publisher: Doubleday; Book & CD edition (October 19, 2004)
ISBN: 0385493754

Review by George Geder

Lucy Anne Hurston certainly did her famous Aunt proud in what she calls “the first collaborative family-sanctioned project on the life and legend of Zora Neale Hurston”.

My neighborhood independent bookstore had a copy laying sideways on the biography shelf. Shrink-wrapped, I could not wait to get home listen to the accompanying CD full of interviews and Zora singing.

If that were not enough, there are a ton of pull-out reproductions of letters, cards, scraps of notes and poems and other textural artifacts. There is so much information packed between the 36 pages. Every page has a photograph of Zora, people important to her, or her family including an 1893 portrait of her parents.

There are inserts galore! How about a 1920 map of Eatonville; a reproduction of the 1921 Howard University magazine ‘The Stylus with her first published story ‘John Redding Goes To Sea’, or a handwritten draft of the first chapter of ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ or a typed letter from Zora to Dr. W.E. Du Bois?

The first 11 tracks on the CD feature interviews by Mary Margaret McBride on WEAF Radio, January 25, 1943 [WEAF became WNBC of New York City in 1946]. Tracks 12–25 are folk songs collected and sung by Zora Neale Hurston for the Joint Committee on Folk Arts of the WPA and Library of Congress- recorded in Jacksonville, Florida, on June 18, 1939.

Then there’s the text. In a four engine locomotive train, Lucy Anne Hurston’s prose is the second engine pushing Zora’s leading words and notions into the heart and consciousness of the reader. Competing effectively, and complementing the photos, inserts and CD, she gives us a compelling and literate insight into her Auntie. If you think you have read everything on, from and about Zora Neale Hurston, there are even some never-before-published poems.

I have been encouraging folks to ‘Speak, So You Can Speak Again’ ever since I read this book. You need to get your voice in front of the people who need to hear what you have to say. Just make sure what you have to say is something of value.

The only way that the United States can lay claim to a multi-cultural and diverse nation, in business, education, and the arts, is to allow all of its citizens to have a voice and access to everything that is American. There can no longer be any marginalization or glass ceilings under our flag.