Florida Center for the Book at Broward County Library Invites Broward County to Join The Big Read
Read and celebrate Zora Neale Hurston's Novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, February 6 through March 30 during The Big Read project
DATE: January 20, 2012
MEDIA CONTACT: Tara Zimmermann
PHONE: 954-357-7386

BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA - Florida Center for the Book at Broward County Library will launch its Big Read program in celebration of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God with a special kick-off event on Wednesday, February 8 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center, 2650 Sistrunk Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale.

The Big Read kick-off event will feature a lecture, “Zora Neale Hurston’s Florida Dust Tracks,” by Dr. Heather D. Russell, Associate Professor of English, Florida International University. Free copies of Their Eyes Were Watching God and Reader’s Guides will be available at the event while supplies last. Light refreshments will be served.

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. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.

The Big Read in Broward County is presented by Florida Center for the Book at Broward County Library in partnership with Broward Public Library Foundation, City of Lauderhill, Writers’ Network of South Florida, Hollywood Arts & Cultural Center, and Coral Springs Museum of Art.

Broward County is one of 75 communities nationwide participating in the Big Read in 2011-2012. From February 6 through March 30, our community will celebrate the literary legacy of Zora Neale Hurston with a full calendar of events including book and film discussions, panel discussions, storytelling events, literary dramatizations, jazz performances, visual arts workshops, an essay contest for high school students and other fun, family-friendly programs.

A sampling of  Big Read special events are listed below:

Big Read Essay Contest

Entries due March 30
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, the main character, Janie, undergoes many changes. The Writers’ Network of South Florida is sponsoring an essay contest asking high school students to write about a change in their life. Students should illustrate what brought about the change, was the change beneficial, did it define a new direction in their life, etc. Submissions will be reviewed based on clarity and vividness of language and use of examples and details. Cash prizes will be awarded. Email tzimmerm@browardlibrary.org to receive a copy of the entry form and guidelines.

Big Read Kick-off: Zora Neale Hurston’s Florida Dust Tracks on the Road
February 8 at 6:30 p.m.
African-American Research Library and Cultural Center, 2650 Sistrunk Blvd., Fort Lauderdale (954-357-6282)
This lecture by Dr. Heather D. Russell of Florida International University sets both Their Eyes Were Watching God and Zora Neale Hurston in socio-historical, geographic and cultural contexts by examining Hurston’s Eatonville roots and their impact on the novel; her anthropological research in Florida on African-American working-class culture and in Haiti on voodoo and how these academic interests relate to the novel; and her final years in Ft. Pierce and the circumstances surrounding the Hurston “renaissance” which occurred in the 1970’s that catapulted Their Eyes Were Watching God to its current canonical/popular status.

Crossing the Creek: The Literary Friendship of Zora Neale Hurston and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
February 9 at 2 p.m.
Northwest Regional Library, 3151 University Drive, Coral Springs (954-341-3900)
February 10 at 2 p.m.
West Regional Library, 8601 W. Broward Blvd., Plantation (954-382-5860)
One of the 20th century's most intriguing and complicated literary friendships was that between Zora Neale Hurston and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Dr. Anna Lillios' Crossing the Creek is the first book to examine the productive and complex relationship between these two major figures. Is there truth to the story that Hurston offered to work as Rawlings' maid? Why did Rawlings host a tea for Hurston in St. Augustine? In what ways did each write the friendship into their novels? Using interviews with individuals who knew both women, as well as incisive readings of surviving letters, Lillios examines these questions and many others in this remarkable program.

Lecture & Music – Zora Neale Hurston: Listening to the South by Dr. Chris Jackson
February 11 at 2 p.m.
Nova Southeastern University Alvin Sherman Library, 3100 Ray Ferrero, Jr. Blvd., Fort Lauderdale (954-262-5477)
This entertaining musical program covers not only Ms. Hurston’s ability to capture colloquial speech in her writings, but also explores her folklore study projects that included recording stories and songs.

Storytelling - What’s the Hurry, Fox? And Other Animal Stories
February 13 at 9:30 a.m. (Distance Learning)
Hollywood Arts & Cultural Center
February 24 at 4:30 p.m. (Public Program)
Riverland Branch Library, 2710 W. Davie Blvd., Fort Lauderdale  (954-791-1085)
March 22 at 11 a.m. (Public Program)
Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale (954-357-7444)
An introduction to the life and work of Zora Neale Hurston. Through storytelling with puppets, children with enjoy pourquoi tales from Hurston’s children’s book What’s the Hurry, Fox? And Other Animal Stories,” adapted by Joyce Carol Thomas and illustrated by Bryan Collier. Program will include an interactive author’s time line with stick puppets, jazz music and “Tell Me a Riddle” game.

Art & Literature Workshop - Revisiting the Harlem Renaissance
Saturdays, February 18 – March 10, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Coral Springs Museum of Art, 2855 Coral Springs Drive, Coral Springs – 954-340-5000
Coral Springs Museum of Art (CSMART) presents a series of artistic and written projects in response to Their Eyes Were Watching God. Through four separate three-hour workshops, teachers and artists will work to fuel the students understanding of the significant impressions, concepts and visual imagery evident in Hurston’s writing. The most important goal is to help the students discover and utilize their own personal voice to create written and visual works in response to the readings.

It’s a Harlem Renaissance Family Affair!
February 18 at 2 p.m.
Lauderhill Towne Centre Library, 6399 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Lauderhill (954-497-1630)
Bring your family to Lauderhill Towne Centre Library’s Big Read celebration! Enjoy live jazz music by The Nicole Yarling 4-tet; dances from the era by the Jubilee Dance Theatre; dramatic readings and poetry; special refreshments; and a free book to the first 50 families. Special guest is Lauderhill Mayor Richard Kaplan. This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Lauderhill Towne Centre Library, City County Credit Union (Lauderhill Branch) and Florida Center for the Book.

Lecture - Zora Neale Hurston: Queen of the Harlem Renaissance
March 6 at 2 p.m.
Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale (954-357-7444)
Despite the fact that most of Zora Neale Hurston’s major published work was released after the Harlem Renaissance (1917-1935) was ostensibly “over,” she was indisputably a central figure of the Harlem Renaissance and had a tremendous impact on the cultural production and life of the period. Most significantly, she brought to bear a southern cultural perspective, in contrast to many of her artistic contemporaries. This PowerPoint presentation by Dr. Heather D. Russell of Florida International University will set Zora Neale Hurston in context of the Harlem Renaissance through discussion of: the social, political, economic and cultural factors that produced the Harlem Renaissance; the artistic output of Hurston and her contemporaries; the intra-cultural and inter-generational ideological battles that were waged; issues of white patronage; and finally, an introduction to Hurston’s The Eatonville Anthology, which she did publish during the period.

Lecture - Zora Neale Hurston’s Final Decade
March 15 at 1 p.m.
Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale (954-357-7444)
Since her death, scholars and the public have rediscovered Hurston’s work and conscientiously researched her biography. Nevertheless, the last decade of her life has remained relatively unexplored. Virginia Moylan fills in the details - investigating subjects as varied as Hurston’s reporting on the trial of Ruby McCollum (a black woman convicted of murdering her white lover), her participation in designing an "anthropologically correct" black baby doll to combat stereotypes, her impassioned and radical biography of King Herod and her controversial objections to court-ordered desegregation.

For more information about The Big Read please visit www.neabigread.org.

Florida Center for the Book at Broward County Library, an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, brings readers and writers together, promotes books, reading and libraries, and celebrates the literary heritage of Florida.

The award-winning Broward County Libraries Division, founded in 1974, is the ninth largest library system in the nation by population served and one of the busiest, with more than 9 million walk-in customers visiting its 37 locations annually. The library has more than 3.4 million items and 2,000 computers for public use and offers hundreds of events and programs to meet the needs of the Broward County's diverse community. The library continues its strong emphasis on literacy, after-school programs and electronic access. In addition to our comprehensive Web site, www.broward.org/library, which provides information about library activities, links to online catalogs, reference information and databases, customers can visit BCL WoW – Broward County Library Without Walls – for free eBooks, music, audiobooks, apps and more. Customers  may also follow Libraries on Facebook and Twitter. Libraries Division also administers the services, programs, collections and exhibits of the Historical Commission.

The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts—both new and established—bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the nation’s largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. For more information, please visit www.arts.gov.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. For more information, please visit www.imls.gov.

Arts Midwest connects people throughout the Midwest and the world to meaningful arts opportunities, sharing creativity, knowledge, and understanding across boundaries. Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 25 years. For more information, please visit www.artsmidwest.org.

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