This week, we shine the spotlight on James Weldon Johnson. A man many know as the author of Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, but Johnson was also a lawyer. I
In this episode, we take a look at a horrific incident in 1925 and how Johnson would use the case to lay the foundation for what would become the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
James Weldon Johnson (June 17, 1871 – June 26, 1938) was an American writer and civil rights activist. He was married to civil rights activist Grace Nail Johnson. Johnson was a leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where he started working in 1917. In 1920, he was the first African American to be chosen as executive secretary of the organization, effectively the operating officer. He served in that position from 1920 to 1930. Johnson established his reputation as a writer and was known during the Harlem Renaissance for his poems, novels, and anthologies collecting both poems and spirituals of black culture.
He was appointed under President Theodore Roosevelt as US consul in Venezuela and Nicaragua for most of the period from 1906 to 1913. In 1934 he was the first African-American professor to be hired at New York University. Later in life, he was a professor of creative literature and writing at Fisk University, a historically black university.
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