James Weldon Johnson

1871–1938
James Weldon Johnson

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, James Weldon Johnson was the first African-American lawyer accepted to the Florida bar and was among the first African-American professors at New York University. A noted writer, editor, statesman, and civil rights activist during the Harlem Renaissance, he wrote the lyrics to the famous anthem “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” His most ambitious work is God’s Trombones, which he wrote while serving as Executive Secretary of the NAACP.

What People are Saying

"I was surprised that I was able to select poems that are so out of my usual spoken word preference. The Poetry Out Loud website has hundreds of poems that I have never seen before, and the fact that I found 3 and was able to make it so far with them is amazing to me. I guess I learned that stepping outside of the box is okay!"
Annabelle Emuze
2015 IL POL Champion