James Weldon Johnson
James Weldon Johnson

James Weldon Johnson
Born June 17, 1871 Jacksonville, FL
Died June 26, 1938 Wiscasset, ME

James Weldon Johnson was taught by his mother, who was a school teacher, in music and other subjects which helped him later in his life.He graduated from Atlanta University with very high degrees and later studied at Columbia University. For a few years he was principal of a black high school in Jacksonville, Florida. Soon after he was admitted to the Florida bar in 1897, and began practicing music there. During this time, he and his brother, John Rosamond Johnson, began writing songs, such as “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” based on his earlier poem, which became something of a national anthem to many African Americans. In 1901 the two went to New York, where they wrote over 200 songs for Broadway. (Tracking the entire world)
In 1906 the President gave him the position of U.S. consul to Venezuela, and in 1909 he became consul in Nicaragua, and he held that position until 1914.(Famous Poets and Poems) Later, he began writing a novel which was called, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, which he published anonymously, but no one cared about it until it was republished in his own name in 1927. In 1916 he became a leader in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). (Biography.com)

Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson
Lift ev'ry voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list'ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast'ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered.
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

Works Cited
"James Weldon Johnson." NNDB: Tracking the entire world. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <http://www.nndb.com/people/830/000101527/>.
"James Weldon Johnson Biography." Famous Poets and Poems - Read and Enjoy Poetry. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/james_weldon_johnson/biography>.
"James Weldon Johnson Biography - Biography.com." Biography.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <http://www.biography.com/articles/James-Weldon-Johnson-9356013>.