“A canonical collection, splendidly and sensitively edited by Rudolph Byrd.”
–Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
One of the leading voices of the Harlem Resaissance and a crucial literary figure of his time, James Weldon Johnson was also an editor, songwriter, founding member and leader of the NAACP, and the first African American to hold a diplomatic post as consul to Venezuela and Nicaragua. This comprehensive volume of Johnson’s works includes the seminal novel Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, poems from God’s Trombones, essays on cultural and political topics, selections from Johnson’s autobiography, Along This Way, and two previously unpublished short plays: Do You Believe in Ghosts? and The Engineer. Featuring a chronology, bibliography, and a Foreword by acclaimed author Charles Johnson, this Modern Library edition showcases the tremendous range of James Weldon Johnson’s writings and their considerable influence on American civic and cultural life.
“This collection of poetry, fiction, criticism, autobiography, political writing and two unpublished plays by James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) spans 60 years of pure triumph over adversity. [….Johnson’s] nobility, his inspiration shine forth from these pages, setting moral and artistic standards.” —Los Angeles Times
About the Author
James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) was an American author, politician, diplomat, critic, journalist, poet, anthologist, educator, lawyer, songwriter, and early civil rights activist. James is remembered best for his leadership within the NAACP, as well as for his writing, which includes novels, poems, and collections of folklore. His most famous book is "The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man". He also published "The Book of American Negro Spirituals", "Black Manhattan", and "Negro Americans, What Now?" One of the first African American professors at New York University, James also served as a professor of creative literature and writing at Fisk University.
Rudolph P. Byrd (Ph.D. Yale University) is the Goodrich C. White Professor of American Studies in the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts and the Department of African American Studies and the founding director of the James Weldon Johnson Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies at Emory University. He is the author and editor of ten books, including "Jean Toomer s Years with Gurdjieff"; "Essentials by Jean Toomer with Charles Johnson"; " Charles Johnson s Novels: Writing the American Palimpsest"; "The Essential Writings of James Weldon Johnson"; and with "Alice Walker The World Has Changed: Conversations with Alice Walker". Among Professor Byrd s awards and fellowships are an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship at Harvard University; Visiting Scholar at the Bellagio Study and Conference Center; and the Thomas Jefferson Award from Emory University. He is a founding officer of the Alice Walker Literary Society.
CHARLES JOHNSON, Jr. is Chair of the Department of History and Geography at Morgan State University.