137+ Best Zora Neale Hurston Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Zora Neale Hurston was an American author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. Profoundly inspirational Zora Neale Hurston quotes will challenge the way you think, change the way you live and transform your whole life.

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Famous Zora Neale Hurston Quotes

The man who interprets Nature is always held in great honor. – Zora Neale Hurston

When I pitched headforemost into the world I landed in the crib of Negroism. – Zora Neale Hurston

Tell me, and then again show me, so I can know. – Zora Neale Hurston

When a man keeps beating me to the draw mentally, he begins to get glamorous. – Zora Neale Hurston

Perhaps love is a compelling necessity imposed on man by God that has something to do with suffering – Zora Neale Hurston

It was the meanest moment of eternity. – Zora Neale Hurston

If science ever gets to the bottom of Voodoo in Haiti and Africa, it will be found that some important medical secrets, still unknown to medical science, give it its power, rather than the gestures of ceremony. – Zora Neale Hurston

I am her friend, and her tongue is in my mouth. I can speak her sentiments for her, though Ethel Waters can do very well indeed in speaking for herself. – Zora Neale Hurston

I was born in a Negro town. – Zora Neale Hurston

It seemed to me that the human beings I met reacted pretty much the same to the same stimuli. Different idioms,yes. Circumstances and conditions having power to influence, yes. Inherent difference, no. – Zora Neale Hurston

Lack of power and opportunity passes off too often for virtue. – Zora Neale Hurston

The North has no interest in the particular Negro, but talks of justice for the whole. The South has not interest, and pretends none, in the mass of Negroes but is very much concerned about the individual. – Zora Neale Hurston

I am the kind of a woman that likes to move on mentally from point to point, and I like for my man to be there way ahead of me. Then if he is strong and honest, it goes on from there. Good looks are not essential, just extra added attraction. – Zora Neale Hurston

You’se something tuh make uh man forgit to git old and forgit tuh die. – Zora Neale Hurston

Learning without wisdom is a load of books on a donkey’s back. – Zora Neale Hurston

My sense of humor will always stand in the way of my seeing myself, my family, my race or my nation as the whole intent of the universe. – Zora Neale Hurston

Bitterness is the coward’s revenge on the world for having been hurt. – Zora Neale Hurston

To me, bitterness is the under-arm odor of wishful weakness. It is the graceless acknowledgment of defeat. – Zora Neale Hurston

The whole matter revolves around the self-respect of my people. How much satisfaction can I get from a court order for somebody toassociate with me who does not wish me near them? – Zora Neale Hurston

I will fight for my country, but I will not lie for her. – Zora Neale Hurston

I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it. Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less. No, I do not weep at the world-I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife. – Zora Neale Hurston

Every morning the world flung itself over and exposed the town to the sun. – Zora Neale Hurston

Honey, de white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find out. Maybe it’s some place way off in de ocean where de black man is in power, but we don’t know nothin’ but what we see. – Zora Neale Hurston

The liquor of statecraft is distilled from the mash you got. – Zora Neale Hurston

Every heart has its graveyard. – Zora Neale Hurston

Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me. – Zora Neale Hurston

Janie looked down on him and felt a self-crushing love. So her soul crawled out from its hiding place. – Zora Neale Hurston

I been through living for years. I just ain’t dead yet. – Zora Neale Hurston

She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her. Then she went inside there to see what it was. It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered. But looking at it she saw that it never was the flesh and blood figure of her dreams. Just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over. – Zora Neale Hurston

I thought that when they said Atlantic Charter, that meant me and everybody in Africa and Asia and everywhere. But it seems like the Atlantic is an ocean that does not touch anywhere but North America and Europe. – Zora Neale Hurston

Like the dead-seeming, cold rocks, I have memories within that came out of the material that went to make me. Time and place have had their say. – Zora Neale Hurston

It would be against all nature for all the Negroes to be either at the bottom, top, or in between. We will go where the internal drive carries us like everybody else. It is up to the individual. – Zora Neale Hurston

I have a strong suspicion . that much that passes for constant love is a golded- up moment walking in its sleep. – Zora Neale Hurston

Slogans can be worse than swords if they are only put in the right mouths. – Zora Neale Hurston

Tain’t no use in you cryin’. But folks is meant to cry ’bout somethin’ or other. Better leave things de way dey is. Youse young yet. No tellin’ whut mout happen befo’ you die. – Zora Neale Hurston

Happiness is nothing but everyday living seen through a veil. – Zora Neale Hurston

Love is lak de sea. It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore. – Zora Neale Hurston

Faith hasn’t got no eyes, but she’s long-legged. – Zora Neale Hurston

When the people sat around on the porch and passed around the pictures of their thoughts for the others to look at and see, it was nice. The fact that the thought pictures were always crayon enlargements of life made it even nicer to listen to. – Zora Neale Hurston

So Janie waited a bloom time, and a green time and an orange time. – Zora Neale Hurston

I have known the joy and pain of friendship. I have served and been served. I have made some good enemies for which I am not a bit sorry. I have loved unselfishly, and I have fondled hatred with the red-hot tongs of Hell. That’s living. – Zora Neale Hurston

The spirit of the marriage left the bedroom and took to living in the parlor. – Zora Neale Hurston

I love myself when I am laughing and then again when I am looking mean and impressive. – Zora Neale Hurston

I do not weep at the world I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife. – Zora Neale Hurston

Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches – Zora Neale Hurston

She starched and ironed her face, forming it into just what people wanted to see. – Zora Neale Hurston

All gods who receive homage are cruel. All gods dispense suffering without reason. Otherwise they would not be worshipped. Through indiscriminate suffering men know fear and fear is the most divine emotion. It is the stones for altars and the beginning of wisdom. Half gods are worshipped in wine and flowers. Real gods require blood. – Zora Neale Hurston

Mystery is the essence of divinity – Zora Neale Hurston

If you haven’t got it, you can’t show it. If you have got it, you can’t hide it. – Zora Neale Hurston

When one is too old for love, one finds great comfort in good dinners. – Zora Neale Hurston

I did not just fall in love. I made a parachute jump. – Zora Neale Hurston

Please God, please suh, don’t let him love nobody else but me. Maybe Ah’m is uh fool, Lawd, lak dey say, but Lawd, Ah been so lonesome, and Ah been waitin’, Jesus. Ah done waited uh long time. – Zora Neale Hurston

I note that the Africa loves to depict the grace of reptiles. – Zora Neale Hurston

The Haitian people are gentle and lovable except for their enormous and unconscious cruelty. – Zora Neale Hurston

The sun had become a light yellow yolk and was walking with red legs across the sky. – Zora Neale Hurston

Tea Cake, the son of the Evening Sun, had to die for loving her. – Zora Neale Hurston

It was not death she feared. It was misunderstanding. – Zora Neale Hurston

But for the national welfare, it is urgent to realize that the minorities do think, and think about something other than the race problem. – Zora Neale Hurston

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. – Zora Neale Hurston

She began to stand around the gate and expect things. What things? She didn’t know exactly. Her breath was gusty and short. She knew things that nobody ever told her. For instance, the words of the trees and the wind. She knew the world was a stallion rolling in the blue pasture of ether. She knew that God tore down the old world every evening and built a new one by sun-up. It was wonderful to see it take form with the sun and emerge from the gray dust of its making. – Zora Neale Hurston

Such as I am, I am a precious gift. – Zora Neale Hurston

When we sing the blues, we’re singin’ out our hearts, we’re singing out our feelings. Maybe we’re hurt and just can’t answer back, then we sing or maybe even hum the blues. – Zora Neale Hurston

If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it. – Zora Neale Hurston

Every tub sits on its bottom. – Zora Neale Hurston

Among the thousand white persons, I am a dark rock surged upon, and overswept. – Zora Neale Hurston

Her old thoughts were going to come in handy now, but new words would have to be made and said to fit them. – Zora Neale Hurston

They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God. – Zora Neale Hurston

I hold that any religion that satisfies the individual urge is valid for that person. – Zora Neale Hurston

You have no idea, sir, how difficult it is to be the victim of benevolence. – Zora Neale Hurston

Love, I find, is like singing. Everybody can do enough to satisfy themselves, though it may not impress the neighbors as being very much. – Zora Neale Hurston

There is no single face in nature, because every eye that looks upon it, sees it from its own angle. So every man’s spice-box seasons his own food. – Zora Neale Hurston

I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions. – Zora Neale Hurston

Everybody has some special road of thought along which they travel when they are alone to themselves. And his road of thought is what makes every man what he is. – Zora Neale Hurston

That is the way with people If they do you wrong, they invent a bad name for you, a good name for their acts and then destroy you in the name of virtue. – Zora Neale Hurston

want won’t kill you half as quick as worry will. – Zora Neale Hurston

For four hundred years the blacks of Haiti had yearned for peace. for three hundred years the island was spoken of as a paradise of riches and pleasures, but that was in reference to the whites to whom the spirit of the land gave welcome. Haiti has meant split blood and tears for blacks. – Zora Neale Hurston

The inference is, that God has restated the superiority of the West. God always does like that when a thousand white people surround one dark one. Dark people are always bad when they do not admit the Divine Plan like that. A certain Javanese man who sticks up for Indonesian Independence is very lowdown by the papers, and suspected of being a Japanese puppet. – Zora Neale Hurston

It costs you something to do good! – Zora Neale Hurston

A thing is mighty big when time and distance cannot shrink it. – Zora Neale Hurston

She had an inside and an outside now and suddenly she knew how not to mix them. – Zora Neale Hurston

Through indiscriminate suffering men know fear, and fear is the most divine emotion. It is the stones for altars and the beginning of wisdom. – Zora Neale Hurston

There are years that ask questions and years that answer. – Zora Neale Hurston

It is so easy to be hopeful in the daytime when you can see the things you wish on. But it was night, it stayed night. Night was striding across nothingness with the whole round world in his hands. They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against cruel walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God. – Zora Neale Hurston

Anybody depending on somebody else’s gods is depending on a fox not to eat chickens. – Zora Neale Hurston

Grown people know that they do not always know the why of things, and even if they think they know, they do not know where and how they got the proof. Hence the irritation they show when children keep on demanding to know if a thing is so and how the grown folks got the proof of it. It is so troublesome because it is disturbing to the pigeonhole way of life. – Zora Neale Hurston

All my skinfolk ain’t kinfolk. – Zora Neale Hurston

I belong to no race nor time. I am the eternal feminine with its string of beads. – Zora Neale Hurston

The very best place to be in all the world is St. Mary’s parish, Jamaica. And the best spot in St. Mary’s is Port Maria, though all of St. Mary’s is fine. Old Maker put himself to a lot of trouble to make that part of the island of Jamaica, for everything there is perfect. – Zora Neale Hurston

You can’t beat me and my prayers! – Zora Neale Hurston

A great state is a well-blended mash of something of all the people and all of none of the people. The liquor of statecraft is distilled from the mash you got. – Zora Neale Hurston

There’s two things everybody got to find out for themselves: they got to find out about love, and they got to find out about living. Now, love is like the sea. It’s a moving thing. And it’s different on every shore. And living… well… There are years that ask questions and years that answer. – Zora Neale Hurston

Friendship is a mysterious and ocean-bottom thing. Who can know the outer ranges of it? Perhaps no human being has ever explored its limits. – Zora Neale Hurston

It seems to me to be true that heavens are placed in the sky because it is the unreachable. The unreachable and therefore the unknowable always seems divine–hence, religion. People need religion because the great masses fear life and its consequences. Its responsibilities weigh heavy. Feeling a weakness in the face of great forces, men seek an alliance with omnipotence to bolster up their feeling of weakness, even though the omnipotence they rely upon is a creature of their own minds. It gives them a feeling of security. – Zora Neale Hurston

Don’t you love nobody better’n you do yo’self. Do, you’ll be dying befo’ yo’ time is out. – Zora Neale Hurston

And I can’t die easy thinking maybe the menfolks white or black is making a spit cup out of you. Have some sympathy for me. Put me down easy, Janie, I’m a cracked plate. – Zora Neale Hurston

I do not share the gloomy thought that Negroes in America are doomed to be stomped out bodaciously, nor even shackled to the bottom of things. Of course some of them will be tromped out, and some will always be at the bottom, keeping company with other bottom-folks. – Zora Neale Hurston

Folklore is the boiled-down juice, or pot-likker, of human living. – Zora Neale Hurston

Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. – Zora Neale Hurston

Light came to me when I realized that I did not have to consider any racial group as a whole. God made them duck by duck and that was the only way I could see them. – Zora Neale Hurston

He looked like the love thoughts of women. – Zora Neale Hurston

The game of keeping what one has is never so exciting as the game of getting. – Zora Neale Hurston

When Janie looked out of her door she saw the drifting mists gathered in the west that cloud field of the sky to arm themselves with thunders and march forth against the world. Louder and higher and lower and wider the sound and motion spread, mounting, sinking, darking. – Zora Neale Hurston

Proverbs are short sayings made out of long experience. – Zora Neale Hurston

Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place. – Zora Neale Hurston

I maintain that I have been a Negro three times a Negro baby, a Negro girl and a Negro woman. Still, if you have received no clear cut impression of what the Negro in America is like, then you are in the same place with me. There is no The Negro here. Our lives are so diversified, internal attitudes so varied, appearances and capabilities so different, that there is no possible classification so catholic that it will cover us all, except My people! My people! – Zora Neale Hurston

It is hard to apply oneself to study when there is no money to pay for food and lodging. I almost never explain these things when folks are asking me why I don’t do this or that. – Zora Neale Hurston

Africa has her mouth on Moses. – Zora Neale Hurston

My head was full of misty fumes of doubt. – Zora Neale Hurston

I wish I could buy you for what you are really worth and sell you for what you think you’re worth. I sure would make money on the deal. – Zora Neale Hurston

Silence is all the genius a fool has. – Zora Neale Hurston

Two things everybody’s got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves. – Zora Neale Hurston

I have been amazed by the Anglo-Saxon’s lack of curiosity about the internal lives and emotions of the Negroes, and for that matter, any non-Anglo-Saxon peoples within our borders, above the class of unskilled labor. – Zora Neale Hurston

She didn’t read books so she didn’t know that she was the world and the heavens boiled down to a drop. – Zora Neale Hurston

There is something about poverty that smells like death. – Zora Neale Hurston

It seems like the first law of Nature is that everybody likes to receive things, but nobody likes to feel grateful. – Zora Neale Hurston

Why fear? The stuff of my being is matter, ever changing, ever moving, but never lost; so what need of denominations and creeds to deny myself the comfort of all my fellow men? The wide belt of the universe has no need for finger-rings. I am one with the infinite and need no other assurance. – Zora Neale Hurston

I want a busy life, a just mind, and a timely death. – Zora Neale Hurston

If it was so honorable and glorious to be black, why was it the yellow-skinned people among us had so much prestige? – Zora Neale Hurston

Distance is the only cure for certain diseases. – Zora Neale Hurston

From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds; from the leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom…It was like a flute song forgotten in another existence and remembered again. What? How? Why? This singing she heard that had nothing to do with her ears. The rose of the world was breathing out smell. It followed her through all her waking moments and caressed her in her sleep. – Zora Neale Hurston

I regret all of my books. – Zora Neale Hurston

We must learn to be honest with ourselves, and know our shortcomings. We will acquire cohesion but we will pay dearly for being a slow pupil. – Zora Neale Hurston

I know that nothing is destructible; things merely change forms. – Zora Neale Hurston

If you kin see de light at daybreak, you don’t keer if you die at dusk. It’s so many people never seen de light at all. – Zora Neale Hurston

Work is the nearest thing to happiness that I can find. – Zora Neale Hurston

Now they got to look into me loving Tea Cake and see whether it was done right or not! They don’t know if life is a mess of corn-meal dumplings, and if love is a bed-quilt! – Zora Neale Hurston

To a haughty belly, kindness is hard to swallow and harder to digest. – Zora Neale Hurston

You heard me. You ain’t blind. – Zora Neale Hurston

So in Jamaica it is the aim of everybody to talk English, act English and look English. And that last specification is where the greatest difficulties arise. It is not so difficult to put a coat of European culture over African culture, but it is next to impossible to lay a European face over an African face in the same generation. – Zora Neale Hurston

She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman. – Zora Neale Hurston

But any man who walks in the way of power and property is bound to meet hate. – Zora Neale Hurston

There is nothing to make you like other human beings so much as doing things for them. – Zora Neale Hurston

Justice, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. – Zora Neale Hurston

Once you wake up thought in a man, you can never put it to sleep again. – Zora Neale Hurston

She’s got those big black eyes with plenty shiny white in them that makes them shine like brand new money and she knows what God gave women eyelashes for, too. Her hair is not what you might call straight. It’s negro hair, but it’s got a kind of white flavor. Like the piece of string out of a ham. It’s not ham at all, but it’s been around ham and got the flavor. – Zora Neale Hurston

It seems that fighting is a game where everybody is the loser. – Zora Neale Hurston

But as de old folk always say, Ah’m born but Ah ain’t dead. No tellin’ whut Ah’m liable tuh do yet. – Zora Neale Hurston

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