Thursday, December 16, 2004

Zora Was Her Name

For the second night this week I have spent a lovely evening at the Akwaaba Washington, DC. The Akwaaba DC is a beautiful black owned and operated bed and breakfast just a few steps from Dupont Circle. I enjoy the space so much in part because it has a black literary theme. Each guest room is named after an African American author or genre of literature. My favorite of course is the Langston Hughes room. It is a chocolate delight decorated with pictures of and books about Langston Hughes. In the front of the room is a glass doorway that leads you to a small terrace that overlooks 16th Street. The first time I visited that room I imagined how wonderful it would be to crawl into the bed with my Langston and cuddle up next to him and hear him recite I’ve Known Rivers like he did on the phone with me once this summer. Even better I envisioned myself standing before him batting my eyes and playfully giving life to the poem Harlem Sweeties. But tonight I was not there to think about Langston or Langston Hughes for that matter.

Tonight I was there to hear the author Lucy Hurston talk about her aunt Zora Neale Hurston and the book she wrote about her life. I sat in the parlor of the Akwaaba with a group largely consisting of black women as Lucy recounted stories about Zora and her research, tales of life changing moments and the legacy Zora has left behind for other women to build upon. The other night when the Innkeeper invited me to this discussion and signing I didn’t think much of it. I’ve always admired the work of Hurston but until tonight I’d never really started connecting her words with her where. She was in many ways far ahead of her time. If my best friend and her husband have a daughter some day they plan to name her, Zora. Now I know why.