Jun. 17, 2017

Happy Birthday James Weldon Johnson

Most Black Americans know that James Weldon Johnson was the songwriter and poet who along with his brother, John Rosamond Johnson, created the Black National Anthem. However, many black people don’t know that the very first Black Executive Secretary of the NAACP was one James Weldon Johnson. He was personally recruited to work at the NAACP by WEB Dubois who taught Mr. Johnson while he was a professor at Atlanta University. James Weldon Johnson was a magnificent creator and wordsmith who easily could have been very successful in his private life by simply doing what he did best create magic with words and music. Yet, Mr. Johnson’s call to greatness would not end with his creative energies to produce impressive poems and songs. You see James Weldon Johnson sought something bigger, something more impactful, he sought the total citizenship rights of people of color in the United States. He was a true patriot and believed that the words written in this country’s Constitution applied to all men and women no matter their creed or color. In 1916 James Weldon Johnson joined the NAACP as a Field Secretary at the behest of WEB Dubois. Eventually, he was asked to become the first Black Executive Secretary of this fledging organization in 1920. With painstaking desire, James Weldon Johnson took on the mission of building the NAACP. It was to become under his leadership the ultimate voice for black civil, judicial, and social rights in this nation. So much more could be written about James Weldon Johnson, more than I could put on any page or post. So, I decided to read one of his greatest creation on In His Words, My Voice, The Creation, as I pay homage to this great ancestor of mine. He lived a full life of 67 years but still, he left before he could see full citizenship rights applied to black citizens in this country. Happy 146th Birthday to one of Black America’s most honored ancestors.

Our black history need not ever be a black mystery.