Friday, June 17, 2011

James Weldon Johnson: Why We Sing

James Weldon Johnson,  educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter, writer, anthropologist, poet and activist, was born June 17, 1871 in Jacksonville, Florida.  Mr. Johnson is perhaps better known for his contribution as a songwriter [along with his brother, Rosamond Johnson] for what was adopted as the Negro National Anthem Hymn, Lift Evr'y Voice and Sing (1900); however, he was also a major contributor to the Harlem Renaissance as a novelist and poet.  The most popular of his literary contributions includes Autobiography and Ex-Colored Man (1912) and the poetic collection of sermons, God's Trombones (1927).  He also wrote a wonderful autobiography, Along This Way, which chronicles his life and journey as a remarkable human being and a major contributor to what we know today as African American heritage.  He is not often talked about in history class, but he is one of the main reasons that African Americans have a history that can be expressed in song.  Mr. Johnson died on June 26, 1938 when the car he was in struck by a train in Wiscasset, Maine.  He is truly unsung, but not forgotten.  Thank you Mr. James Weldon Johnson.

Sources:  youtube, and


get zapped said...

I enjoy visiting your blog as I learn something and/or get inspired. I'll share this with my friend whose shares Mr. Johnson's birthday.

Joyfulness for you....

Stephen A. Bess said...

Thank you so much GZ. I admire this man so much. Great figure in American history.