The Use of African American Vernacular in the Writings of Zora Neale Hurston and Shirley Anne Williams

1781 Words8 Pages
From the 1930s through the 1960s, Zora Neale Hurston was the most accomplished black female writer in the United States. During that thirty-year period she “published seven books, short stories, magazine articles, and plays, and she gained a reputation as an outstanding folklorist and novelist” (Gale, n.d.). A literary descendant of Hurston’s, Sherley Anne Williams was an equally talented novelist, poet, critic, and author of children’s books. Through her love of history and biography, Williams was able to create art that vividly reflected her passions. Hurston and Williams are both important writers of their times, and although the works I have you chosen to examine in this paper are 6 decades apart, one thing that they share in common is their turning of folklore and black vernacular, a language that was largely rejected by white mainstream society, into a powerful weapon and discourse in communicating rejections, desires, and change in the African American women's world. So in a way, what Sherley Anne Williams did with language in Dessa Rose is very much a continuation of what Hurston did in Sweat during the height of the Harlem Renaissance that celebrated black art and literature, and Hurston was indeed among the first black women writers who wrote in black vernacular and gained attention in the literary community. Born on January 7, 1891, in Notasulga, Alabama, Hurston moved with her family to Eatonville, Florida, when she was still a toddler. Established in 1887, the rural community north of Orlando was the nation’s first incorporated black township. Her father, a three-term mayor, helped formulate the laws of the all-black community. In Eatonville, Hurston was never socialized to feel inferior; she was immersed in black achievement. From the town halls, to the churches, she saw African American men and women teaching and running businesses. Zora Neale

More about The Use of African American Vernacular in the Writings of Zora Neale Hurston and Shirley Anne Williams

Open Document