Eatonville's annual Zora Festival
presents cultural programming that honors Zora Neale Hurston, one of the most beloved African American writers of the 20th century, and the historic heritage of Eatonville, the Central Florida town she once called home.
Hurston, author of celebrated books Their Eyes Were Watching God, Mules and Men
and Tell My Horse
, grew up in Eatonville, the oldest incorporated African American municipality in the United States; she returned to Florida after her time as part of the Harlem Renaissance and as a WPA writer. Her prose captures the cultural vibrancy of her childhood hometown and serves as a historical snapshot of a community in which Black individuals could live as they pleased. She later dedicated herself to anthropological fieldwork, recording and collecting the oral history and folklore of Black America.
In the spirit of her lively explorations of African American culture, the centerpiece of this year's Zora Fest is a two-day seminar curated by Dr. Julian Chambliss
, formerly of Rollins College and now at Michigan State University. Chambliss is also a Zora Festival national planner.
“Afrofuturism — What Is Its Sound?” will look at ways Black culture marries elements of futurism or science fiction to the oral tradition and music technology evident in Black history. An obvious recent example would be the Marvel smash hit movie Black Panther
, but there are myriad other works to explore in the Afrofuturism vein — and the seminar planners have assembled an audiovisual syllabus
that will allow anyone to take a walk through this mind-expanding, life-giving aesthetic.
Panelists/presenters at the symposium include Toniesha L. Taylor, Ph.D.; Regina Bradley, Ph.D.; Paul Ortiz, Ph.D.; and Erik Steinskog, Ph.D., along with Chambliss.
Zora Festival Symposium: “Afrofuturism — What Is Its Sound?”; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Jan. 29-30; virtual event hosted by UCF College of Arts & Humanities; free.
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