By James Lancy
Live Wire Staff Writer

Neale Hurston speaking on stage. Photo by Hector Morales.

Lucy Hurston speaking of her aunt. Photo by Hector Morales.

The Fall 2016 Common Read series kicked off Sept. 6 with an intimate look at the author and the book from Lucy Anne Hurston, niece of Zora Neale Hurston, author of this year’s selection Their Eyes Were Watching God. Hurston, who teaches sociology at Manchester Community College, never met her famous aunt, but learned a lot about her from her writings and stories from her father and uncles, Neale Hurston’s brothers.

Neale Hurston grew up in early twentieth century America between the end of slavery and the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, when being African-American was considered “undesirable,” Hurston said. She spent much of her childhood in Eatonville, Fla., the first town in America founded by blacks, for blacks. The adventurous author went on to study the science of cultural anthropology, even becoming a voodoo priestess in her pursuit of understanding marriages or what she termed “pair bondings” and their place in various cultures. Neale Hurston liked to say “we are all the same, we’re just different in our sameness.”

In Neale Hurston’s book Their Eyes Were Watching God, the main protagonist, Janie returns to her hometown in central Florida after disappearing for some time. Much of the story is Janie telling her tale of love, loss and survival to her best friend Phoebe.

Additional events surrounding the Common Read include:

“The Art of the Harlem Renaissance,” presented by Oliva Chiang, who teaches art at MCC, Tuesday, Oct. 4, from 1- 2 p.m. in the SBM Charitable Foundation auditorium in the lobby of the AST Tower.

Also, two films will be screened.

“Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun,” will be shown Thursday, Oct. 20, from 1 – 3 p.m. in the auditorium. The documentary uses rare footage, clips and interviews to reveal Hurston’s life.

The 2005 film adaptation of “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” starring Academy-Award winning actress Halle Berry and Michael Ealy, will be shown Tuesday, Nov. 8, from 1- 3:30 p.m., also in the auditorium. All these events are free and open to the public.

Common Read Discussion Groups will meet Fridays all semester in room A121 in the library. Light refreshments will be served. The dates and times are:

Friday, September 23, 12:30-1:30pm
Friday, October 7, 12:30-1:30pm
Friday, October 14, 12:30-1:30pm
Friday, October 21, 12:30-1:30 pm
Friday, October 28, 12:30-1:30pm
Friday, November 4, 12:30-1:30pm
Friday, November 11, 12:30-1:30pm
Friday, November 18, 12:30-1:30pm