3/6/2013 - Alabama Women's Hall of Fame March 7
Two women pioneers in historical research and writing, Zora Neale Hurston and Frances Cabaniss Roberts, will be inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in March.
Judson College houses the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame and will host the induction ceremony on March 7, 2013, at 10:30 a.m. The public is welcomed to the free event.
Largely unsuccessful as a writer while living, Zora Neale Hurston died in poverty and obscurity in 1960. She was buried in an unmarked grave and might have been forgotten had not Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, helped to popularize her writings. Hurston's writings, all in print today, are now taught in English and African American Studies departments across the country.
Hurston was born in 1891 to a family of sharecroppers in Nostasulga, Ala. She was the fifth of eight children born to John Hurston, a former slave, and Lucy Potts.
At Howard University in Washington, D.C., she began to write stories, publishing her first work in 1924. Hurston then moved to New York City, where she won prizes for short stories and one-act plays. She earned a fellowship at Barnard College, where she was the only African-American student.
Hurston graduated from Barnard and spent two years in doctoral studies in anthropology and folklore at Columbia University. She wrote four novels, two books of folklore, an autobiography, numerous short stories, and several essays, articles and plays. One of her best-known works is the novel Their Eyes were Watching God.
Frances Cabaniss Roberts was born in Gainesville, Ala., in 1916 and spent her life in historical research and historic preservation.
She graduated from the two-year program of the State Teachers College in Livingston and taught in the Sumter County Public School system before obtaining a four-year bachelor's degree at Livingston College. She earned a master’s degree in history at the University of Alabama and later became the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in history at the university.
In addition to her historical research, Roberts authored and co-authored textbooks used in history and civics classes throughout Alabama.
As a founding faculty member of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Roberts established the history department, the Academic Advisement and Information Center, and championed the statewide establishment of the liberal arts-based general education requirements for college and university students.
Much of her life was spent working for the preservation and continued use of historical buildings. She was the founding force behind the Old Town and Twickenham historical districts, Huntsville’s Constitution Hall Village, the Huntsville Historical Society and the Huntsville Preservation Society.
In 1978 she was awarded the Alabama Award of Merit for outstanding service in the preservation of state history.
According to the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame guidelines, a nominee must have been deceased for two years before consideration for inclusion. Hurston died on Jan. 28, 1960, and Roberts died on Nov. 5, 2000.
The AWHOF, founded in 1970, is housed in the A. Howard Bean Hall on the Judson campus in Marion, Ala.
Additional information is available on the AWHOF website.