(Photo: Courtesy The New York Public Library)
Prolific author, diplomat, poet, songwriter and civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson died on June 26, 1938. Johnson is credited with co-writing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which became known as the Negro National Anthem, and he also served as general secretary of the NAACP.
Born on June 17, 1871, in Jacksonville, Florida, Johnson was educated at Atlanta University, where he became a member of Phi Beta Sigma, and later U.S. Consul to Venezuela. During his time abroad, he wrote his most popular novel, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. He later published several other titles, including his autobiography, Along This Way: The Autobiography of James Weldon Johnson, in 1933.
Johnson’s accomplishments made him a symbolic figure in the Harlem Renaissance, and his Harlem funeral was reportedly attended by more than 2,000 mourners.
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