Their Eyes Were Watching God

by: Zora Neale Hurston

The Harlem Renaissance

Zora Neale Hurston played a significant role in the Harlem Renaissance, a period in the early 20th century in which the New York neighborhood of Harlem became a black cultural mecca. Black writers, visual artists, musicians, actors, and other cultural figures flocked to the area and created works of art that celebrated the survival of African-Americans, as well as the community’s potential to rebirth the arts. The seeds of the Renaissance were planted when the Great Migration occurred, a time in which millions of African-Americans moved from the South to the North, often settling in Harlem, which most white families abandoned. By the 1920s, Harlem was firmly established as a vibrant and thriving black community. The now-famous artists who joined it—including Langston Hughes, Josephine Baker, Paul Robeson, and Hurston—influenced each other in the creation of masterpieces of black art.