Jun. 17, 2019
Celebrating The 148TH Birthday Of James Weldon Johnson
Today is the birthday of James Weldon Johnson, born June 16, 1871, in Jacksonville, Florida. Poet, novelist, and U.S. diplomat, James Weldon Johnson is probably best known to millions as the author of the lyrics to “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the black national anthem. Johnson was also a civil rights activist and was Executive Secretary of the National Association of Colored People from 1920 to 1929. As such, Johnson spoke out on a variety of issues facing African Americans.
In this historic speech given at a dinner for Congressman (and future New York Mayor) Fiorello H. LaGuardia at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City on March 10, 1923. James Weldon Johnson outlined the importance of the vote for the nation’s Black Americans of African descent. The many injustices detailed in 1923 aren't as visible in 2018 as they were 1923. However, the importance of voting is just as critical. In 1923 more than 90% of our ancestors were openly being denied the vote. They were facing mobs bent on violence to deny our constitution right provided by the 15th Amendment of the Constitution. Our ancestors sacrificed life and limb to gain those rights supposedly provided them once they were released from bondage.
So, remember on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, do exactly as ancestor James Weldon Johnson would have demanded you to do, vote, and don't let anyone shake our tree of a hoped-for democracy. The right to vote was not given to our ancestors freely. The right to vote was fought for, bled for, and sacrificed for by our ancestors. So, I as honor the birthdate of a great American hero who believed in equal justice for all, James Weldon Johnson in his words, my voice.