"Crazy for this Democracy"
By Zora Neale Hurston, 1945
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Excerpt from "Crazy for this Democracy"
They tell me this democracy form of government is a wonderful thing. It has freedom, equality, justice, in short, everything! Since 1937 nobody has talked about anything else…The radio, the newspapers, and the columnists inside the newspapers, have said how lovely it was. And this talk and praise-giving has got me in the notion to try some of the stuff. All I want to do is get hold of a sample of the thing, and I declare, I sure will try it. I don’t know for myself, but I have been told that it is really wonderful.
I accept this idea of Democracy. I am all for trying it out. It must be a good thing if everybody praises it like that. If our government has been willing to go to war and to sacrifice billions of dollars and millions of men for the idea, I think that I ought to give the thing a trial.

The only thing that keeps me from pitching headlong into the thing is the presence of numerous Jim Crow* laws on the statute books of the nation. I am crazy about the idea of this Democracy. I want to see how it feels. Therefore, I am all for the repeal of every Jim Crow law in the nation here and now. Not in another generation of so. The Hurstons have already been waiting eighty years for that. I want it here and now.

Source: Negro Digest, 1945
*Jim Crow Laws – laws from 1870s – 1960s that forced racial segregation (separation) in public places.

1. How would you describe the tone (the writer’s attitude toward the material or readers) of this essay?
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2. What message do you think Hurston is trying to convey?
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3. What contradiction about American democracy has Hurston brought attention to?
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4. How does Hurston feel about democracy? What lines tell you this?
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5. Considering the time period this was written, how is Hurston “doing” democracy by writing the essay?
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