James Weldon Johnson

American writer and activist

James Weldon Johnson (June 17, 1871 – June 26, 1938) was an American writer and civil rights activist. He was married to civil rights activist Grace Nail Johnson. Johnson was a leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He started working there in 1917. In 1920, he was the first African American to be the executive secretary of the organization. This made him the person in charge.[1] Johnson held that position from 1920 to 1930. As a writer, he was known during the Harlem Renaissance for his poems and his novel. He also has a collection of both poems and spirituals of black culture. He wrote the lyrics for "Lift Every Voice and Sing". This was later known as the Negro National Anthem. The music for the song was written by his younger brother, composer J. Rosamond Johnson.

James Weldon Johnson
Photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1932
Photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1932
Born(1871-06-17)June 17, 1871
Jacksonville, Florida, United States
DiedJune 26, 1938(1938-06-26) (aged 67)
Wiscasset, Maine, United States
Resting placeGreen-Wood Cemetery, New York City, NY
  • Author
  • activist
  • educator
  • lawyer
  • diplomat
  • republican
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materClark Atlanta University
PeriodHarlem Renaissance (1891- 1938)
SubjectCivil Rights
Literary movementHarlem Renaissance
Notable works"Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing", The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, God's Trombones, Along This Way
Notable awardsSpingarn Medal from NAACP, Harmon Gold Award
SpouseGrace Nail Johnson

Johnson was the U.S. consul in Venezuela and Nicaragua for most of the period from 1906 to 1913. In 1934. he was the first African-American professor to be hired at New York University.[2] Later in life, he was a professor at Fisk University, a historically black university.

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References change

  1. Gates Jr., Henry Louis; McKay, Nellie Y., eds. (2004). The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (2nd ed.). New York: Norton. pp. 791–792.
  2. "175 Facts about NYU: James Weldon Johnson". New York University. Archived from the original on April 21, 2016.