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Reading Passage "Eatonville" Duplicated Below


 
 
 
 
 
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In the 1930s, why did author Zora Neale Hurston choose Eatonville, Florida, to be the first source for her collection of folklore?
 
I was glad when somebody told me, "You may go and collect Negro folklore." In a way, it would not be a new experience for me. When I pitched headforemost into the world I landed in the crib of Negroism. It was fitting me like a tight chemise. I couldn't see it for wearing it. It was only when I was off in college, away from my native surroundings, that I could stand off and look at my garment. Then I had to have the spy-glass of anthropology to look through.
 
I was asked where I wanted to work and I said, "Florida. It's a place that draws people -- Negroes from every Southern state and some from the North and West." So I knew that it was possible for me to get a cross section of the Negro South in one state. And then I realized that I felt new myself, so it looked sensible for me to choose familiar ground. I started in Eatonville, Florida, because I knew that the town was full of material and that I could get it without causing any hurt or harm. As early as I could remember, it was the habit of the men particularly to gather on the store porch in the evenings and swap stories. Even the women would stop and break a breath with them at times. As a child when I was sent down to the store, I'd drag out my leaving to hear more.
 
Folklore is not as easy to collect as it sounds. The ideal source is where there are the fewest outside influences, but these people are reluctant at times to reveal that which the soul lives by. I knew that even I would have some hindrance among strangers. But here in Eatonville I knew everybody was going to help me.

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