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Fort Pierce in St. Lucie County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Lincoln Park Academy

— Zora Neale Hurston Dust Tracks Heritage Trail —

 
 
Lincoln Park Academy Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross, June 26, 2022
1. Lincoln Park Academy Marker
Inscription.  
Lincoln Park Academy, 1806 Avenue I
At a time in our history when blacks were frequently denied the most basic opportunities, Zora Neale Hurston worked hard and successfully to obtain a fine education and establish herself as a writer. Her life experience is full of lessons for all of us. For a short time in 1958, Zora taught English at Lincoln Park Academy, then a segregated school. But ironically, because she couldn't get a state certificate quickly enough, this nationally renowned writer wasn't hired to teach on a permanent basis.

Zora and Lincoln Park Academy
Today, Lincoln Park Academy is a magnet school of choice, rated A+ by the Florida Department of Education, and has been listed as one of the nation's most outstanding high schools by Newsweek Magazine. The school's roots reach back to 1921, when an ambitious group of black families worked to raise money and support for the area's first four year black high school — at a time when there was no high school available for blacks south of Palatka (Putnam County, north Florida). When Lincoln Park Academy was accredited in 1928, it was one of only four accredited black high schools in Florida. The school achieved its status in part thanks to Principal James A. Espy, who insisted that (most) teachers have college degrees, an almost unheard of requirement for this time.

Zora Neale Hurston was a nationally known author and folklorist, had a prestigious college degree, and had taught in college classrooms. But in the school system, rules are rules, and in February 1958 when Zora came to teach English at Lincoln Park Academy,
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she found that her education and extensive professional experience would not exempt her from obtaining an official State of Florida teaching certificate. Zora was unable to obtain transcripts and other support quickly enough to satisfy school authorities, who were under pressure to meet accreditation requirements (which included hiring fully certified teachers). As a result, Zora taught for only a short time and students missed a rare opportunity to meet and learn from a great talent. Today historians and literature scholars continue to find wisdom in the life and work of Zora Neale Hurston.

“Hit uh Straight Lick wid uh Crooked Stick”
Zora Neale Hurston often used colloquial proverbs in her stories. (A proverb is a short, popular saying that expresses a well-known truth or fact.. Colloquial means that it is expressed in a local dialect or mannerism.) “Hit uh straight lick wid uh crooked stick” is an example of a colloquial proverb Zora used in many different instances in her novel. Jonah's Gourd Vine 1934. This proverb aptly describes Zora's own education and career — accomplishments great things against incredible odds — serves as a beacon of example to students facing today’s challenges.

A 1977 article in the Orlando Sentinel by John Hicks described how Zora was able to obtain an education in a time when black Americans did not have the educational opportunities they do today. “Acquiring an education was not easy or free, and Zora worked at times, as a manicurist, maid and waitress in a struggle to keep ahead of her debts… she was awarded a scholarship to attend Barnard College in New York City as the school's first black student. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Barnard in 1928.” After entering Barnard continued to work and seek financial assistance she wrote magazine articles and did anthropological fieldwork
Lincoln Park Academy Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross, June 26, 2022
2. Lincoln Park Academy Marker
for Dr. Franz Boas at Columbia University. She also received a $1400 fellowship (a sizable sum for the time) from the Carter Woodson’s Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, enabling her to travel to Florida, where she began collecting the black folklore that became such an essential part of her career as a creative professional.
(Captions)
How Zora Got Her Education
Young Zora, age and location unknown. Zora was just 13 when her mother died. Soon afterward, Zora began spending time in Jacksonville, sometimes with relatives and sometimes at the Florida Baptist Academy boarding school. Little is known about her teen years.
Photographer unknown. Courtesy New York Public Library.

Zora Neal Hurston, as she might have looked during her brief time at Lincoln Park Academy. Zenobia Jefferson was a Lincoln Park Academy art teacher, who later would introduce future Highwayman artist Alfred Hair to Beanie Bacus recalled the time when Zora gave her a bag full of colored glass. “The bag of glass scraps would be used in art class where the students could make something beautiful. Just like Zora always believed, teachers can make something beautiful and successful out of their students.”
Photographer unknown. Courtesy, Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundation.

When Zora came to teach at Lincoln Park Academy, she was near the end of her life's journey. Her fine formal education had been greatly amplified through travel and interaction with other creative people. Zora's autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road didn’t capture all of her rich life, and she was often pressed to publish more of her personal story. Today, historians and literature buffs continue to study Zora and search for clues to
Lincoln Park Academy image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross, June 26, 2022
3. Lincoln Park Academy
her character and passion for work.

Zora (center) with friends (unidentified), possibly at Howard University. Zora completed the equivalent of high school at age 27, and then two years working and studying to obtain an associate’s degree from Howard University. In 1925 (Zora was 34), her perseverance paid off with a scholarship to prestigious Barnard College, a private liberal arts college affiliated with Columbia University in New York City. Zora was 37 years old when she completed her Bachelor’s degree at Barnard.
Photographer unknown. Courtesy of Zora Neal Hurston Collection, George A. Smothers Libraries, University of Florida, Department of Special Collections.

 
Erected by Florida Humanities Council, St. Lucie County and the City of Fort Pierce. (Marker Number Stop #2.)
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicEducationWomen. A significant historical year for this entry is 1958.
 
Location. 27° 27.51′ N, 80° 20.619′ W. Marker is in Fort Pierce, Florida, in St. Lucie County. Marker is at the intersection of Avenue I and N 20th Street, on the right on Avenue I. Located in front of Lincoln Park Academy. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1806 Avenue I, Fort Pierce FL 34950, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Lincoln Park Academy (here, next to this marker); Zora Neale Hurston House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Former Chronicle Newspaper Headquarters (approx. 0.4 miles away); Highwaymen Obelisk (approx. half a mile away); Means Court School (approx. half a mile away); a different marker also named Lincoln Park Academy (approx. half a
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mile away); Julius Caesar Scott (approx. 0.6 miles away); Zora Neale Hurston Gravesite (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fort Pierce.
 
Also see . . .  Zora Neale Hurston Dust Tracks Heritage Trail. (Submitted on July 15, 2022, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida.)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 15, 2022. It was originally submitted on July 15, 2022, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. This page has been viewed 113 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 15, 2022, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 12, 2024