You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays

Amistad: HarperCollins. Jan. 2022. 464p. ed. by ed. by Henry Louis Gates Jr. & M. Genevieve West. ISBN 9780063043855. $29.99. LIT
This incredible collection of fifty essays by Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God) is a treat for fans of the Harlem Renaissance author whose popularity continues to grow. Some of these collected writings have never before been previously published or are being reprinted for the first time since initial publication. Spanning four decades (1922-1958), her writings are organized by themes including race, gender, politics, and the arts. Editors Gates (Harvard) and West (Texas Woman’s University) frequently employ earliest surviving manuscripts including documents written in Hurston’s own hand. The editors acknowledge the contradictions sometimes found between Hurston’s views and her own lived experiences. Texts include book reviews and riveting newspaper reports related to Ruby McCollum’s murder trial. Hurston satirized Marcus Garvey’s pomposity and provided a critical (and for many, controversial) perspective on the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling. Her account of the discord between administration and faculty at Howard University in the 1920s resembles disagreements found in many of today’s higher education institutions. These essays demonstrate Hurston’s extraordinary talent as a journalist and writer.
VERDICT This excellent collection of essays will appeal to many readers especially individuals interested in African American history, literature, and culture.
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