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.