Fisk University has received a $10,000 grant award as part of The Big Read, a National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) initiative that encourages local communities to read and discuss one of 30 selected titles from U.S. and world literature.
Fisk is one of 269 grant recipients nationwide that will host community celebrations between September 2009 and June 2010. Of the 30 novels on this year’s Big Read list, Fisk’s celebration focuses on Zora Neale Hurston’s, “Their Eyes Were Watching God.”
The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest.
“Fisk is excited about bringing Ms. Hurston’s work to our campus and community partners because of the connections she had with many in the Fisk family,” said Dr. Adenike Davidson, associate professor of English and director of the Fisk University W.E.B. Du Bois Honors Program.
Hurston, along with noted Fisk educators and administrators such as painter and muralist Aaron Douglas, author and Fisk University Librarian Arna Bontemps and Charles S. Johnson, the first African American President of Fisk University, were members of the rich development of African-American culture in the 1920s and 1930s known as the Harlem Renaissance. Johnson was an early supporter of Hurston’s work and helped her to publish some of her short stories. Hurston wrote ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God” in 1937. In 2005, the award-winning novel was adapted to film by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions and won two Emmys in 2005 as well as a 2006 Directors Guild Award.
The University’s campus kick-off and community event calendar will be announced this fall and will include a lecture by Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence at the University of Georgia and Hurston biographer Valerie Boyd. The full calendar of events will be released in August.