Image of James Weldon Johnson

James Weldon Johnson

1871 - 1938

James Weldon Johnson, who was a talented American poet and novelist, made a name for himself as a man of letters and as a civil rights leader in the early decades of the 20th century. He is credited with bringing a new standard of artistry and realism to black literature.

He was head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People during the 1920s and helped remove the legal, political and social obstacles hindering black achievement.


Classics

A Poet to His Baby Son

Tiny bit of humanity,
Blessed with your mother’s face,
And cursed with your father’s mind.

I say cursed with your father’s mind,
Because you can lie so long and so quietly on your back,... [+]


Classics

The Awakening

I dreamed that I was a rose
That grew beside a lonely way,
Close by a path none ever chose,
And there I lingered day by day.
Beneath the sunshine and the show’r
I grew and waited there apart,... [+]


Classics

To America

How would you have us, as we are?
Or sinking 'neath the load we bear?
Our eyes fixed forward on a star?
Or gazing empty at despair?

Rising or falling? Men or things?
With dragging pace o... [+]


Classics

Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing

Lift ev’ry voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a... [+]