Six years prior to writing the book she is best known for, ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God‘, famed Harlem Renaissance author Zora Neale Hurston was just starting her career in 1928 when she met Cudjo Lewis.
Lewis, who was born as Kossola, was nearly 90 years old and living in Plateau, Alabama. He was thought to be the last African man alive who had been kidnapped from his village in West Africa in 1859 and forced into slavery in America aged 19.
Hurston, who was an anthropologist, documented her interviews with Lewis during the late 1920s and wrote a book in his own words about his life titled, ‘Barracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo’.
But the manuscript she wrote was turned down by multiple publishers in 1931 who felt as though Lewis’s heavily accented dialect was too difficult to read.
For decades, Hurston’s manuscript of the book was tucked away inside Howard University’s archives until The Zora Neale Hurston Trust found a buyer for the book – more than 50 years after her death in 1960. On Tuesday, ‘Barracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo‘,’ was published by Amistad/HarperCollins.
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Source: Daily Mail