James Weldon Johnson Flashcards, test questions and answers
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What is James Weldon Johnson?
James Weldon Johnson was an American author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, and civil rights activist. He was a critical figure in the Harlem Renaissance for his writing and activism. His most notable works include God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse (1927) and The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912).Johnson was born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1871. He attended Atlanta University where he studied literature and music. After graduating from Atlanta University he taught English at the segregated Stanton School for several years before attending Columbia University to study law. He then moved to New York City where he became involved with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During his time with the NAACP Johnson worked on civil rights campaigns such as anti-lynching legislation and winning voting rights for African Americans. In addition to his civil rights work Johnson wrote extensively throughout his career including poetry, fiction, non-fiction, songs and plays which often addressed racial injustice or celebrated African American culture. His most famous work is The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man which tells a story about a light skinned African American man living in New York City during the early 20th century who passes as white to gain access to opportunities denied him due to racism. This novel is considered one of the first written by an African American novelist giving perspective into race relations during that time period. James Weldon Johnson also served as U.S Ambassador to Venezuela during FDR’s presidency from 19371938 making him one of the first black ambassadors appointed by a United States president. In 1940 he published God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse which is sometimes referred to as one of America’s finest collections of religious poetry ever written by an African American poet/author. It featured seven poems inspired by traditional black sermons he heard while growing up in rural Florida each exploring spiritual themes like faith, hope and redemption through verse form rather than prose form.