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MDC’s Florida Center for the Literary Arts Plans 'Big Read' Events to Encourage South Floridians to Read Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God

Miami, February 1, 2008 - It’s been seven decades since Zora Neale Hurston first shook the literary world with her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, widely considered to be the first African-American feminist novel. Even now, the story of Janie Mae Crawford, who tries to break free from the roles assigned to women of her generation and prove her worth, still resonates with new generations of women seeking to connect with their identity.

In honor of Hurston’s lasting work, the Florida Center for the Literary Arts (FCLA) at Miami Dade College (MDC) has chosen Their Eyes Were Watching God as the official selection for this year’s Big Read campaign, a national initiative created to restore reading to the center of American culture with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Throughout February and March, there will be an array of events in association with the novel, including presentations by renowned authors and musical performances.

The festivities kick-off with a bus trip to the annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities in Eatonville, FL, departing at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2. The festival will feature local and national performers, including Peabo Bryson, and a visit to Hurston's gravesite in Fort Pierce for a reading of Alice Walker’s essay, Looking for Zora.

MDC’s North Campus, located at 11380 N.W. 27 Ave., will host the Nineteenth National African-American Read-In in conjunction with the Big Read at 10 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 4. More than 350 middle and high school students are expected to attend the Read-In, where community leaders will read excerpts from Hurston’s novel.

Below is a list of Big Read events, which are open to the public and free, unless otherwise noted.


Saturday, Feb. 2, 7 a.m.

Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities
Jump aboard the “Big Read” bus to Eatonville and take part in this annual festival to honor Hurston’s literary contributions. The trip, which features performances by local and national talent, will conclude with a stop at Hurston’s grave in Fort Pierce. Fee: $25.00

MDC Wolfson Camus, 300 N.E. Second Ave. (front of Building Three)

Monday, Feb. 4, 10 a.m.

Nineteenth National African-American Read-In
Special guests, including former State Representative Dr. Wilbert “Tee” Holloway, State Circuit Judge William Thomas and Reverend James C. Kinchen, Jr., will read and interpret excerpts of Hurston’s novel before more than 350 middle and high school students, as well as members of the community. A live video broadcast of the event will be available at

MDC North Campus, 11380 S.W. 27 Ave., Room 5120

Book Discussions at Miami-Dade County Libraries

Thursday, Feb. 7 – Wednesday, Feb. 27
Miami-Dade County Main Library
101 W. Flagler St., Miami

Thursday, Feb. 7
11 a.m. – Golden Glades Branch, 100 N.E. 166 St.

Saturday, Feb. 9
11 a.m. – Coral Reef Branch, 9211 Coral Reef Drive
3 p.m. – West Kendall Regional, 10201 Hammocks Blvd.

Tuesday, Feb. 12
1:30 p.m. – Homestead Branch, 700 n. Homestead Blvd.

Wednesday, Feb. 13
3:30 p.m. – Edison Branch, 531 N.W. 62 St.
7 p.m. – South Miami Branch, 6000 Sunset Drive

Tuesday, Feb. 19
7 p.m. – Key Biscayne Branch, 299 Crandon Blvd.

Wednesday, Feb. 20
11 a.m. – Naranja Branch, 27050-60 S. Dixie Highway
5:30 p.m. – South Shore Branch, 131 Alton Road

Wednesday, Feb. 27
6 p.m. – North Dade Regional, 2455 N.W. 183 St.

Friday, Feb. 22, 5 p.m.

Writing After Zora
Edwidge Danticat and Carla Kaplan, author of Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters will lead a public talk about how the new generation of African-American writers relate to, nurture, respect and cultivate Hurston’s contribution to African-American identity.

Miami-Dade County Main Library
101 W. Flagler St., Miami


Renaissance in Harlem
A musical performance that recreates the cultural flamboyance of Harlem in the 1930s, with a reading of Hurston’s work and participation of Mike Di Liddo, Kitty Oliver and Ed Reardon.

Thursday, Mar. 13, 7:30 p.m.
MDC Wolfson Campus, Room 3208-3209
300 N.E. Second Ave., Miami

Friday, Mar. 14, 7 p.m.
North Dade Regional Library
2455 N.W. 183 St., Miami

For more information about Big Read events, please contact Roselyne Pirson at 305-237-7261, or visit the FCLA website at

Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Tere Estorino, 305-237-3949,, MDC media relations director
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist

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