“Believe me when I say being a woman is great,” raps Queen Latifah in her 1989 single, “Ladies First,” a hit that quickly became a female empowerment anthem. Just a few decades prior to that, Zora Neale Hurston was busy creating her collection of masterpieces. She went on to become a literary icon of the Harlem Renaissance. These two influential women share more than just the power to express themselves through words, though. Here are a few other similarities:
While Queen Latifah is famous for her vocal talents, having released eight albums, Zora’s recording history isn’t as well known. During the Great Depression, the U.S. government created programs aimed to preserve the history of folk life. Through the Federal Writers’ Project’s Florida Folklife Program, she successfully recorded a number of folklore songs she had collected and learned while traveling around the U.S. Take a minute to listen to a few:
Both women are published authors who, aside from other works, had also written autobiographies. Zora’s autobiographical account was told in Dust Tracks on a Road (1942). Latifah shared her struggles in Ladies First: Revelations of a Strong Woman (1999).
Connected to Howard
Zora Neale Hurston briefly attended Howard University, where she co-founded the University’s student newspaper, The Hilltop. Queen Latifah played the role of Khadijah James on the 90s sitcom Living Single. Latifah’s character had attended Howard University, and was the editor of The Hilltop.
Would Zora have approved of Khadijah’s editorial skills?