James Weldon Johnson, an American author, diplomat, politician, critic, journalist, educator, poet, anthologist, lawyer, songwriter, and early civil rights activist, was born on 17th June 1871, Jacksonville, Fla., U.S and died in June 26, 1938, Wiscasset, Maine. Johnson was widely known for his leadership within the NAACP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, an African-American civil rights organization in the United States and as a renowned writer. He was also one of the first African-American professors at New York University.
In 1894, he graduated from Atlanta University with A.B. and in 1904 he received his M.A. and got admitted at Columbia University for further education. On completion of his studies, he was appointed as the principal of the black high school in Jacksonville, Florida, where he served for several years. Simultaneously, he was completed his law with his brother, John Rosamond Johnson and started composing songs, including “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which became something of a national anthem to many African Americans. In 1901, they went to New York and composed more than 200 songs for the Broadway musical stage.
In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him as the U.S. consul to Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, and three years later in Corinto, Nicaragua. Later, he was appointed at Fisk University, where he got spare time to write novel, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, which was published in 1912. From 1916 onward, he remained a leader in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
His works and Collections:
Some of his great poetry collections are To a Friend in1892, A Brand in1893, The Color Sergeant in1898, O Black and Unknown Bards in1908, Fifty Years and Other Poems in1917, My City in 1923, Go Down, Death in 1926, God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse in 1927, Saint Peter Relates an Incident in1935, The Glory of the Day was in Her Face and some books are Along This Way, Negro Americans, What Now?, Black Manhattan, Second Book of Negro Spirituals, Self-Determining Haiti, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man and many more
Awards and Accomplishments:
James Weldon Johnson received Honorary Master’s degree from Atlanta University, Honorary doctorates from Talladega College and Howard University, and W. E. B. Du Bois Prize for Negro Literature. In 2002, his name was enlisted in the list of 100 Greatest African Americans. In 1925, He received Springarn Medal from NAACP, for his exceptional accomplishment.