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 do Poetry Out Loud because the everyday me is very shy and easily stumbles over words, mangling meaning and botching simple conversations. Yet, when I recite poetry it is an opportunity for me to become someone else––an embodiment of the poem. Slowly, step by step, I think Poetry Out Loud is helping me to become a braver, more confident person, even if I still tremble when I get on stage."
Rose Horowitz
2016 ME POL Champion