James Weldon Johnson was a lawyer, musician, poet, writer and a civil rights activist.
James was the first born son to Helen Louise Dillet and James Johnson, he was born on June 17, 1871, in Jacksonville, Florida. As a young child, James was into drawing, reading, and music, his mother had recognized this and enrolled him into the segregated, Stanton school. Because of James’ skin color, he had to travel and attend Atlanta University for his secondary education and college. After he had completed his college education, he took a job as a grammar school principal, and later, he founded “The Daily American” newspaper. In 1898, James became the first black lawyer admitted into taking the Florida Bars, following this, he was the first African American to complete the Bars on his first try. He wrote his first official poem, that was turned into a song, in 1899, “Lift ev’ry Voice and Sing”, this song was later known as the “Negro National Anthem”. His life as a songwriter took off when he accepted a job to write songs for New York’s famous Broadway. As of 1912, James had changed his career and had published his only book as anonymous, “The Autobiography of An Ex-Colored Man” but, in 1927 he republished the book under his name, earning some well deserved credit.
In 1914, James had become involved in the organizaton, NAACP, and in 1920, he was awarded the honor of serving as the Chief executive, he would hold this position for another 10 years. During this time in his life, he thrived in the African-American artistic community, also known as the Harlem Resistance. (Biography.com) After making a huge mark in NAACP, he retired in 1930. James had then devoted the rest of his life to writing. Before his tragic death in 1938, he had written over 60 poems and 200 songs.
James Weldon Johnson lived a full life and explored many careers, and excelled at all of them. He will forever be known as civil rights activist, musician, lawyer, poet and writer that was very passionate about his work.