S. Epatha Merkerson is narrating an “American Masters” PBS documentary called “Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun” airing Wednesday, April 9, 2008. It’s about Zora Neale Hurston, novelist, trailblazer for black women, a scholar, and artist. According to the New York Times Hurston “also pioneered a very 21st-century genre: the unreliable memoir…In her speeches and writings — including her autobiography, “Dust Tracks on a Road,” which is liberally quoted by the film’s narrator, S. Epatha Merkerson — Hurston shaved a decade from her age and substituted the all-black town of Eatonville, Fla., where she grew up, for her actual birthplace in Alabama. The film doesn’t speculate about her reasons, but we can: perhaps when being a black woman in the Jim Crow South means that you finish high school at 27 and don’t become the first black graduate of Barnard College (with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology) until 36, you find it practical to obscure your age.”
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