Cudjo Lewis was getting old, and Zora Neale Hurston had something to prove.
Hurston, pictured above, was the prolific African American author best known for “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” She was just starting her career in 1928 when she traveled down to Plateau, Ala., to meet with Lewis. The man was in his 80s. He was widely believed to be the last African man alive who had been kidnapped from his village, shackled in the cargo of a ship and forced into slavery in America. Hurston, competing with other anthropologists of the day, set out to document his life more thoroughly than the rest.