January 21, 2020
African American Music History pt . 9 /Black History Poems / Black Poets you may not have heard of pt – 7
2 In One.
In this article I would like to share with you one of America’s earliest artist, poets and African American novelists by the name of James Weldon Johnson. History records that James Weldon Johnson was a native of Florida with family stretching as far south as the Bahamas. James Weldon Johnson was educated in Atlanta and New York. History notes that he was the first African American to pass a written examination for the bar in Florida.
To add to his life long resume of contributions and achievements James Weldon Johnson was also a poet that wrote many of America’s great Black History Poems. He was also a diplomat and in 1916 joined the NAACP. History records that he was an official of the NAACP and became its Executive Secretary for many years. History records that James Weldon Johnson was a very active and positive leader who worked through many hardships to help achieve equal rights and justice for people of color and all.
Some of his many achievements with the NAACP are : Starting the drive behind the dyer Anti Lynching Bill in 1921 : Spear heading the fight against the all white primary which at that time made it illegal for then called Negroes / Americans to be denied participation in Southern primary elections. History records that he wrote articles for the Nation on the conduct of the United States Marines in Haiti and help to make the United States occupation of that country a presidential campaign issue in 1921.
History notes that his essays on the grass roots of the then called Negro’s cultural contributions was understood to be a big part in explaining the foundation of the then called Negro’s achievements in music and literature in the decade of the twenties. But with all of these contributions and achievements what James Weldon Johnson may be mostly remembered for is his famous poem. ” Lift Every Voice and Sing ” ( 1900 ) . This famous Black History Poem was set to music by his brother , James Rosamond Johnson and became somewhat of a Negro / Black / African American National Anthem.
History records that his dramatic poem ” Gods Trombones ” 1927 may still be heard on the stages of high schools and colleges in the south and abroad. History records that in one of Johnson’s collections of verse, St . Peter Relates an Incident ( 1917 ) his poem ” O Black and Unknown Bards ” is accepted as one of the best poetic explanation of the origins of spirituals during that time .
In his Autobiography of an EX – colored Man ( 1912 ) was one of the earliest accounts of a then called Negro exploring different levels of American society by passing, ( Acting White ). History records that this autobiography was so real to Johnson that he felt the need to publish his own life’s story in the classic Along This Way 1933. Outside of his creative work, History notes that he edited a news paper in New York and ran an popular column in it for ten years.
He also published an anthology, The Book of American Negro Poetry 1922 . SoulTic Magazine salutes James Weldon Johnson for his many achievements in the struggle for equal rights and justice , Likewise his contributions to early American literature byway of books and African American / Black History Poems.