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Johnson, James Weldon

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Born: 1871 AD
Died: 1938 AD, at 67 years of age.

Nationality: American
Categories: Authors, Lawyers

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1871 - Born on June 17th in Jacksonville, Florida. A poet, diplomat, and anthologist of black culture.

1894-1904 - Trained in music and other subjects by his mother, a schoolteacher, Johnson graduated from Atlanta University with A.B. and M.A. degrees and later studied at Columbia University.

         - For several years he was principal of the black high school in Jacksonville, Florida.

         - He read law at the same time, was admitted to the Florida bar, and began practicing there.

         - Went to New York with his brother, where they wrote some 200 songs for the Broadway musical stage.

1906 - President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him U.S. consul to Puerto Cabello, Venezuela.

1909-1914 - He became consul in Corinto, Nicaragua.

1916 - Johnson was a leader in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

1917-1926 - "Fifty Years and Other Poems" was followed by his pioneering anthology "Book of American Negro Poetry" and books of "American Negro Spirituals", collaborations with his brother.

1927 - He later taught at Fisk University. Meanwhile, he began writing a novel, Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man (published anonymously), which attracted little attention until it was reissued under his own name.

         - His best-known work, "God's Trombones", a group of black dialect sermons in verse, includes “The Creation” and “Go Down Death.” Johnson's introductions to his anthologies contain some of the most perceptive assessments ever made of black contributions to American culture.

1933 - Wrote "Along This Way" an autobiography.

1938 - Died on June 26th in Wiscasset, Maine.

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Page last updated: 2:51am, 17th Mar '07