Jun. 17, 2019

Saluting James Weldon Johnson, born June 17, 1871 "The Creation"

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, Lift E'vry Voice and Song. The poem was created while Johnson was residing in his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. His talent with prose was exceptional but James Weldon Johnson also had a unique ability to organize and build. It was those skills that endeared James Weldon Johnson to black history.

Many black people know the song but don't know the creator of that epic song, Lift E'vry Voice and Sing. They also don’t know this pertinent fact, the very first Black Executive Secretary of the NAACP was James Weldon Johnson. Johnson was personally recruited to work at the NAACP by WEB Dubois. Dubois 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 fledgling organization in 1920. James Weldon Johnson had an enormous amount of inner personal desire, with that source of power 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. Under Johnson's stewardship, the NAACP scoured the nation uncovering acts of violence being perpetrated on blacks. Johnson placed an emphasis on stamping out the lynchings and white mob violence that afflicted our black ancestors. I could write so much more about James Weldon Johnson, more than I could put on any page or post. So, I decided this morning 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. We are still struggling for those rights. We are now concentrating on the economic, educational and judicial rights of equality in this country. Until we secure those rights, James Weldon Johnson spirit cannot rest in peace. Happy Birthday Ancestor Johnson. ​