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 University—experiences 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.
God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verseby James Weldon Johnson, Aaron Douglas (Illustrator)
The inspirational sermons of the old Negro preachers are set down as poetry in this collection -- a classic for more than forty years, frequently dramatized, recorded, and anthologized. Mr. Johnson tells in his preface of hearing these same themes treated by famous preachers in his youth; some of the sermons are still current, and like the spirituals they have taken a significant place in black folk art. In transmuting their essence into original and moving poetry, the author has also ensured the survival of a great oral tradition.
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