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Encyclopedia > James Weldon Johnson
James Weldon Johnson

photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1932
Born: June 17, 1871
Jacksonville, Florida
Died: June 26, 1938
Wiscasset, Maine
Occupation: educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter, writer, anthropologist, poet, activist
Nationality: American of African Descent
Literary movement: Harlem Renaissance
Influences: Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Langston Hughes

James Weldon Johnson (June 17, 1871June 26, 1938) was a leading American author, critic, journalist, poet, anthropologist, educator, lawyer, songwriter, early civil rights activist, and prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Johnson is best remembered for his writing, which includes novels, poems, and collections of folklore. He was also one of the first African-American professors at New York University. Later in life he was a Professor of Creative Literature and Writing at Fisk University. James Weldon Johnson photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1932 Dec. ... is the 168th day of the year (169th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1871 (MDCCCLXXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... “Jacksonville” redirects here. ... Official language(s) English Capital Tallahassee Largest city Jacksonville Largest metro area Miami metropolitan area Area  Ranked 22nd  - Total 65,795[1] sq mi (170,304[1] km²)  - Width 361 miles (582 km)  - Length 447 miles (721 km)  - % water 17. ... is the 177th day of the year (178th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1938 (MCMXXXVIII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar). ... Wiscasset is a town located in Lincoln County, Maine. ... Official language(s) None (English and French de facto) Capital Augusta Largest city Portland Area  Ranked 39th  - Total 33,414 sq mi (86,542 km²)  - Width 210 miles (338 km)  - Length 320 miles (515 km)  - % water 13. ... This article is about work. ... In English usage, nationality is the legal relationship between a person and a country. ... ... The Harlem Renaissance (also known as the Black Literary Renaissance and New Negro Renaissance) refers to the blooming of African American cultural and intellectual life during the 1920s and 1930s. ... Paul Laurence Dunbar (June 27, 1872 - February 9, 1906) was a seminal African-American poet in the late 19th and early 20th century. ... Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, novelist, playwright, short story writer, and columnist. ... is the 168th day of the year (169th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1871 (MDCCCLXXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... is the 177th day of the year (178th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1938 (MCMXXXVIII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar). ... Civil rights or positive rights are those legal rights retained by citizens and protected by the government. ... The Harlem Renaissance (also known as the Black Literary Renaissance and New Negro Renaissance) refers to the blooming of African American cultural and intellectual life during the 1920s and 1930s. ... New York University (NYU) is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational research university in New York City. ... Fisk University is a historically black university in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. It was established by John Ogden, Reverend Erastus Milo Cravath and Reverend Edward P. Smith and named in honor of General Clinton B. Fisk of the Tennessee Freedmens Bureau. ...

Contents

Life

Johnson was born in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of Helen Louise Dillet and James Johnson. Johnson was first educated by his mother (a public school teacher) and then at Edmin M. Stanton School. At the age of 16 he enrolled at Atlanta University, from which he graduated in 1894. In addition to his bachelor's degree, he also completed some graduate coursework there.[1] He served in several public capacities over the next 35 years, working in education, the diplomatic corps, civil rights activism, literature, poetry, and music. In 1910 Johnson married Grace Nail, the daughter of a prosperous real estate developer from New York. He became a member of Sigma Pi Phi and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. at some point after its founding in 1914.he loved to sing in the shower “Jacksonville” redirects here. ... The Edmin M. Stanton School is a historic school in Jacksonville, Florida. ... Clark Atlanta University (CAU) is a private institution of higher education in Atlanta, Georgia. ... This article is about negotiations. ... This article is about the art form. ... For other uses, see Music (disambiguation). ... Sigma Pi Phi is the the oldest surviving black fraternity and generally considered to be the first black fraternity. ... Phi Beta Sigma (ΦΒΣ) Fraternity was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C. on January 9, 1914, by three young African-American male students. ...


Education and Law

After graduation he returned to Stanton, a school for African American students in Jacksonville, until 1906, where, at the young age of 23, he became principal. Johnson improved education by adding the ninth and tenth grades. In 1897, Johnson was the first African American admitted to the Florida Bar Exam since Reconstruction. In the 1930s Johnson became a Professor of Creative Literature and Writing at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. where he lectured not only on literature but also on a wide range of issues to do with the life and civil rights of black Americans. Stanton College Preparatory School is an academically renowned high school located in Jacksonville, Florida, whose history dates to the 1860s, when it was begun as an elementary school serving the African-American population under the then-segregated education system. ... Ninth grade (called Grade 9 or Year 9 in some regions, also known as freshman year in the U.S.) is the ninth school year after kindergarten. ... Tenth grade (called Grade 10 in some regions and in Canada, also known as sophomore year in the U.S.) is a year of education in the United States and many other nations. ... A bar examination is an series of tests conducted at regular intervals to determine whether a candidate is qualified to practice law in a given American examination usually consists of the following: complicated essay questions concerning that jurisdictions law; the Multistate Bar Examination, a standardized, nationwide examination containing generalized... For other uses, see Reconstruction (disambiguation). ... Fisk University is a historically black university in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. It was established by John Ogden, Reverend Erastus Milo Cravath and Reverend Edward P. Smith and named in honor of General Clinton B. Fisk of the Tennessee Freedmens Bureau. ... “Nashville” redirects here. ... Official language(s) English Capital Nashville Largest city Memphis Largest metro area Nashville Metropolitan Area Area  Ranked 36th  - Total 42,169 sq mi (109,247 km²)  - Width 120 miles (195 km)  - Length 440 miles (710 km)  - % water 2. ...


Music

In 1899, Johnson moved to New York City with his brother, J. Rosamond Johnson to work in musical theater. Johnson composed the lyrics of "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," originally written for a celebration of Lincoln's birthday at Stanton School. This song would later become to be known - and adopted as such by the NAACP - as the Negro National Anthem. The song was entered into the Congressional Record as the official African American National Hymn following the success of a 1990 rendition by singer Melba Moore and a bevy of other recording artists. After successes with their songwriting and music the brothers worked at Broadway and collaborated with producer and director Bob Cole. Johnson also composed the opera Tolosa with his brother J. Rosamond Johnson which satirizes the U.S. annexation of the Pacific islands. [2] Midtown Manhattan, looking north from the Empire State Building, 2005 New York City (officially named the City of New York) is the most populous city in the state of New York and the entire United States. ... 1933 photograph of J. Rosamond Johnson by Carl Van Vechten John Rosamond Johnson (1873–1954), most often referred to as J. Rosamond Johnson, was a composer and singer during the Harlem Renaissance. ... Musical theater (or theatre) is a form of theatre combining music, songs, dance, and spoken dialogue. ... African American flag Lift Evry Voice and Sing — often called The Black National Anthem — was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) and then set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954) in 1899. ... For other uses, see Abraham Lincoln (disambiguation). ... The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), is one of the oldest and most influential hate organizations in the United States. ... The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. ... Melba Moore (born Melba Hill, 29 October 1945, in New York City) is an American R&B singer and actress. ... For other uses of Broadway, see Broadway. ... Robert Bob Cole (born 1933 in Newfoundland) is a Canadian television announcer. ... 1933 photograph of J. Rosamond Johnson by Carl Van Vechten John Rosamond Johnson (1873–1954), most often referred to as J. Rosamond Johnson, was a composer and singer during the Harlem Renaissance. ...

Aged around 30 at the time of this photo, James W. Johnson had already written Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing and been admitted to the Florida bar.
Aged around 30 at the time of this photo, James W. Johnson had already written Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing and been admitted to the Florida bar.

Image File history File links James_Weldon_Johnson. ... Image File history File links James_Weldon_Johnson. ...

Diplomacy

In 1906 Johnson was appointed US consul of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela. In 1909 he transferred to be the US consul of Corinto, Nicaragua.[3] During his work in the foreign service, Johnson became a published poet, with work printed in the magazine The Century Magazine and in The Independent.[4] For the uses of Consul as Chief Magistrate of a (city) state, see Consul. ... Puerto Cabello is a city on the north coast of Venezuela. ... Corinto is also a town in the department of Morazán in El Salvador, see Corinto, El Salvador and in Minas Gerais in Brazil, see Corinto, Minas Gerais Corinto [kOrEn´tO] is a town of 17,000 (1995 population) on the northwest Pacific coast of Nicaragua and is one of... The Century Magazine was first published in the United States in 1881 by The Century Company of New York City as a successor to Scribners Monthly Magazine. ...


Literature and Anthropology

During his six-year stay in South America he completed his most famous book The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man which was published anonymously in 1912. It was only in 1927 that Johnson admitted his authorship - stressing that it was not a work of autobiography but mostly fictional. Other works include The Book of American Negro Spirituals (1925), Black Manhattan (1930), his exploration of the contribution of African-Americans to the cultural scene of New York, and Negro Americans, What Now? (1934), a book calling for civil rights for African Americans. Johnson was also an accomplished anthropologist. Johnson's anthologies provided inspiration, encouragement, and recognition to the new generation of artists who would create the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s.[5] The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson is the fictional telling of the story of a young biracial man, refered to only as the “Ex-Colored Man, living in post reconstruction era America in the late ninteenth and early twentieth century. ... Cover of the first English edition of 1793 of Benjamin Franklins autobiography. ... For other uses, see Fiction (disambiguation). ... The Harlem Renaissance (also known as the Black Literary Renaissance and New Negro Renaissance) refers to the blooming of African American cultural and intellectual life during the 1920s and 1930s. ...


Poetry

The poetry of Johnson, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and the works of people like W.E.B Dubois ignited the Harlem Renaissance. In 1922, he edited The Book of American Negro Poetry, which the Academy of American Poets calls "a major contribution to the history of African-American literature."[4] One of the works for which he is best remembered today, God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse, was published in 1927 and celebrates the tradition of the folk preacher. Paul Laurence Dunbar (June 27, 1872 - February 9, 1906) was a seminal African-American poet in the late 19th and early 20th century. ... William Edward Burghardt DuBois (February 23, 1868 - August 27, 1963) was an African-American civil rights leader and scholar. ... The Harlem Renaissance (also known as the Black Literary Renaissance and New Negro Renaissance) refers to the blooming of African American cultural and intellectual life during the 1920s and 1930s. ...


Activism

While serving the NAACP from 1920 through 1931 Johnson started as an organizer and eventually became the first black male secretary in the organization's history. Throughout the 1920s he was one of the major inspirations and promoters of the Harlem Renaissance trying to refute condescending white criticism and helping young black authors to get published. While serving in the NAACP Johnson was involved in sparking the drive behind the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill of 1921. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), is one of the oldest and most influential hate organizations in the United States. ... The Harlem Renaissance (also known as the Black Literary Renaissance and New Negro Renaissance) refers to the blooming of African American cultural and intellectual life during the 1920s and 1930s. ... The Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill was an attempt to reduce or end completely the extremely high number of lynchings occurring in the United States since the end of World War I. President Warren G. Harding announced his support for the bill during a speaking engagement in Birmingham Alabama. ...


Shortly before his death, Johnson supported efforts by Ignatz Waghalter, a Polish-Jewish composer who had escaped the Nazis, to establish a classical orchestra of African-American musicians. According to musical historian James Nathan Jones, the formation of the "American Negro Orchestra" (as it was then known) represented for Johnson "the fulfillment of a dream he had had for thirty years." Ignatz Waghalter (March 15, 1881 – April 7, 1949) was a Polish-German composer and conductor. ...


James Weldon Johnson died in 1938 while on vacation in Wiscasset, Maine, when the car he was driving was hit by a train. His funeral in Harlem was attended by more than 2000 people.[6] Wiscasset is a town located in Lincoln County, Maine. ...


Selected works

Poetry

  • Lift Every Voice and Sing (1899)
  • Fifty Years and Other Poems (1917)
  • Go Down, Death (1926)
  • God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse (1927)
  • Saint Peter Relates an Incident (1935)
  • The Glory of the Day was in Her Face
  • Selected Poems (1936)

African American flag Lift Evry Voice and Sing — often called the Black National Anthem — was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) and then set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954) in 1899. ...

Other works and collections

  • The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912/1927)
  • Self-Determining Haiti (1920)
  • The Book of American Negro Poetry (1922)
  • The Book of American Negro Spirituals (1925)
  • Second Book of Negro Spirituals (1926)
  • Black Manhattan (1930)
  • Negro Americans, What Now? (1934)
  • Along This Way (1934)
  • The Selected Writings of James Weldon Johnson (1995, posthumous collection)

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson is the fictional telling of the story of a young biracial man, refered to only as the “Ex-Colored Man, living in post reconstruction era America in the late ninteenth and early twentieth century. ...

Notes

  1. ^ James Weldon Johnson: Harmon Collection
  2. ^ http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p105641_index.html
  3. ^ James Weldon Johnson, The Literary Encyclopedia
  4. ^ a b James Weldon Johnson, profile by The Academy of American Poets
  5. ^ http://www.sc.edu/library/spcoll/amlit/johnson/johnson1.html
  6. ^ The Oxford Companion to African American Literature, edited by William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster, Trudier Harris, New York, Oxford, 1997, p. 404 ff.

Other references

  • James Weldon Johnson: Writings (William L. Andrews, editor) (The Library of America), 2004) ISBN 978-1-93108252-5.
  • Yenser, Thomas (editor), Who's Who in Colored America: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Persons of African Descent in America, Brooklyn, New York, 1930-1931-1932 (Third Edition)
  • The Oxford Companion to African American Literature, edited by William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster, Trudier Harris, New York, Oxford, 1997, p. 404 ff.

External links

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James Weldon Johnson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (324 words)
James Weldon Johnson (June 17, 1871 - June 26, 1938) was a leading African American author, poet, early civil rights activist, and prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance.
Johnson was a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. He was also one of the first African-American professors at New York University.
James Weldon Johnson died in 1938 while on vacation in Wiscasset, Maine when the car he was driving was hit by a train.
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