The relationship between Zora Neale Hurston and Rollins College is an established scholarly fact. Yet, that fact is rarely examined with the level of scrutiny it could receive. As an African-American woman active in the deep South traveling to and from the campus of a white college is not a simple exercise. I've been curious about this history since I learned about it while doing Project Mosaic: Zora Neale Hurston.
Hurston's multidisciplinary life inspired the framework for the Project Mosaic and generated a model of curricular engagement that bridged the classroom and the community for several years. The Mosaic projects are done, but Hurston continues to point the way toward further engagement. The Communities Conference co-sponsored by Rollins College and the Association to Preserve Eatonville Community is an example of the kind of engagement that animated Hurston's work on campus in 1932. Hurston was looking for the opportunity to explore new ideas free from the restrictive frameworks she experienced in New York. The success of those efforts set her career on a new pathway. As I consider the cluster of projects connected to Eatonville I have pursued this semester, the impact of understanding the lessons from the past are front and center in my mind.