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James Weldon Johnson

@ National Portrait Gallery


Born Jacksonville, FloridaJames Weldon Johnson was a Renaissance man: successful Broadway lyricist, poet, novelist, diplomat, and a key figure in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1900 he collaborated with his brother John to produce "Lift Every Voice and Sing," a song that later acquired the subtitle of the "Negro National Anthem." President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Johnson consul to Venezuela and Nicaragua, where he served with great distinction. In the 1920s, Johnson became a key figure in the "New Negro" movement and the Harlem Renaissance, known for his anthology, The Book of American Negro Poetry; his work on African American religion, God’s Trombones; and Black Manhattan, the first history of African Americans in New York City. As chief operating officer of the NAACP during that same decade, he helped formulate the strategy that would later overturn American segregation laws.
Pastel On Illustration Board
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Lawrence A. Fleischman and Howard Garfinkle with a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts
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National Portrait Gallery

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Smithsonian Institution