James Weldon Johnson’s birthday, June 17, 1871

Today is the birthday of James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), the first black head of the NAACP, diplomat, political activist, teacher, novelist, poet, historian, editor, lecturer, key promoter of the Harlem Renaissance and co-founder of the ACLU. Johnson was a hero of the “Red Summer” of 1919 and one of the leading civil rights activists of the early 20th Century.

“I will not allow one prejudiced person or one million or one hundred million to blight my life. I will not let prejudice or any of its attendant humiliations and injustices bear me down to spiritual defeat.”
— from Johnson’s Negro Americans, What Now?


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