This week for Writer’s Quote, I selected the first stanza from the song, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which was originally written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson. His brother, John, set the poem to music; and, it later became the anthem for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
The video below features Aretha Franklin, one of my favorite R&B and Gospel artists, performing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
ABOUT: JAMES WELDON JOHNSON
Johnson is known as one of the creators and leaders of the Harlem Renaissance. In addition to writing the poem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” he and his brother collaborated and wrote songs for over 200 broadway musicals.
During his lifetime, he published many stories and poems and was the author of two book:
- God’s Trombones (1927),
- The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912)
In addition to his artistic talents, Johnson also gained recognition as an educator, lawyer, and civil rights activist. President Theodore Roosevelt, in 1906, appointed Johnson to diplomatic positions in Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Upon his return to the United Stated, in 1914, he started working for the NAACP. After retiring from there, he became the first African-American professor at New york University.
On June 26, 1938, Johnson died in a car accident. More than two thousand people attended his funeral in Harlem.