Educated at Barnard College, Zora Neale Hurston played an important role in the Harlem Renaissance. During that time, she wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God, the story of one woman's journey to self-realization and independence. However, several decades later, Hurston's representation of the Black experience in Florida was deemed less relevant to the times and her books went out of print. In the final years of her life she did a number of odd jobs, including house cleaning, to make ends meet.
In 1975, the poet and novelist Alice Walker reminded a new generation of academics and readers about the power and beauty of Hurston's writing. Eventually, her books were reprinted and continue to be widely read. Walker also added a proper headstone to Hurston's previously unmarked grave, calling her "Genius of the South." Today, Hurston is celebrated as being a source of inspiration for many contemporary Black writers, such as Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou.