Friday, August 6, 2010

American Letters-Audio of Mary M. McBride and Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston and Mary Margaret McBride photos courtesy of and
by Barry Michael Cooper 

In the '30s, '40s, and '50s, popular radio host Mary Margaret McBride was the Oprah Winfrey of her era. The following is a description of her show, from

Radio personalities such as Mary Margaret McBride (1899-1976) are not as well known today. Originally employed as a print journalist, McBride hosted an extremely popular daily radio program during the late 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Her audience was composed mainly of women. Her show mixed spontaneous interviews with notable guests, many of whom were women, and useful information with a heavy dose of advertising targeted at women. Topics discussed on her show included prostitution, unwed mothers, marriage in the modern world, and pioneering women. The program offered an alternative to the afternoon soap operas and demonstrated that women’s interests ranged beyond cleaning tips and recipes. McBride maintained complete editorial and commercial control over her program and in doing so made lasting changes in the style of radio talk shows
Zora Neale Hurston was not only a brilliant and trailblazing author--she was the dame of letters of the Harlem Renaissance movement--she was a folklorist, anthropologist, and storied academician, with degrees from both Howard University and Barnard College. Her magnum opus, Their Eyes Were Watching God, became a literary cornerstone for authors such as Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker--Walker's March 1975 Ms. Magazine feature, In Search of Zora Neale Hurston revived interest in the author--whose work is infused with the emotional and spiritual zest for life that Hurston was known for. 

On 25 January 1943, Mary Margaret McBride interview Zora Neale Hurston on her WEAF radio program. Topics included Hurston's autobiography, Dust Tracks On A Road, and Hurston's description of zombies in Haiti, which was part of her ethnographic research of African rituals in Jamaica and Haiti, as part of the distinguished Guggenheim Fellowship she was awarded in 1937. Below is a snippet of that interview. It is a part of American literary history.

Hurston, Zora Neale - Zora Neale Hurston Discussing Zombies on the Mary Margaret McBride Show
Found at Zora Neale Hurston Discussing Zombies on the Mary Margaret McBride Show on

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