James Weldon Johnson was born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1871. Among the first to break through the barriers segregating his race, he was educated at Atlanta University and at Columbia and was the first black admitted to the Florida bar. He was also, for a time, a songwriter in New York, American consul in Venezuela and Nicaragua, executive secretary of the NAACP, and professor of creative literature at Fisk Universityexperiences recorded in his autobiography, Along This Way. Other books by him include Saint Peter Relates an Incident, Black Manhattan, and God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse. In addition to his own writing, Johnson was the editor of pioneering anthologies of black American poetry and spirituals. He died in 1938.
Lift Every Voice and Sing: Selected Poemsby James Weldon Johnson, Sondra Kathryn Wilson (Preface by)
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This selection of more than forty poems from a leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance includes both uncompromising indictments of racial injustice and celebrations of the triumphs of African-Americans.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
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Bryan Collier provides a wonderful accompanying illustration of the powerful 1900 anthem by James Weldon Johnson. Presented in a manner that will be inspiring for young minds, they should be able to feel the "song full of hope" that was made manifest in the inauguration of President Obama in 2009. And, with that inspiration, may they remain true as they go forth on life's journey.