On June 26, 1938, James Weldon Johnson, 67, was killed when his car was struck by a train at a railroad crossing in the small town of Wiscasset, Maine. Johnson was thrown from the car and killed instantly. His wife, Grace, who had been driving, was pinned in the car and severely injured.
His death shocked the political and literary world. More than 2,500 attended his funeral in Harlem. It was the death of one of the heroes of the “Red Summer” of 1919, a man of extraordinary talent who as the NAACP’s field secretary led the fight against unprecedented anti-black riot and lynchings. Beyond the NAACP, he wrote a novel, poetry, history and journalism. Read about his many achievements and why they should be remembered here.