Synopses & Reviews
The autobiography of the celebrated African American writer and civil rights activist
Published just four years before his death in 1938, James Weldon Johnson's autobiography is a fascinating portrait of an African American who broke the racial divide at a time when the Harlem Renaissance had not yet begun to usher in the civil rights movement. Not only an educator, lawyer, and diplomat, Johnson was also one of the most revered leaders of his time, going on to serve as the first black president of the NAACP (which had previously been run only by whites), as well as write the groundbreaking novel The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. Beginning with his birth in Jacksonville, Florida, and detailing his education, his role in the Harlem Renaissance, and his later years as a professor and civil rights reformer, Along This Way is an inspiring classic of African American literature.
Here is, to quote the eminent historian Nathan Irvin Huggins, "one of the finest American autobiographies written in this century". Born in 1871 in Jacksonville, Florida, James Weldon Johnson began his career as a high school principal. He went on to attain success as a songwriter on Broadway and as the compiler of the definitive Book of American Negro Spirituals. But he achieved one of his greatest triumphs in 1912, when, under a pseudonym, he published The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man -- a classic novel about a musician who rejects his black roots, a novel that is still in print today in no fewer than five paperback editions. Johnson was, from 1920 to 1930, the first African American head of the NAACP, fighting tirelessly for the passage of a federal anti-lynching law. His life story is that of a truly remarkable man who triumphed over a system of institutionalized racism to become one of black America's leading educators, men of letters, and reformers.
About the Author
James Weldon Johnson
(1871-1938) is the author of The Autobiography of an Ex- Colored Man
and the books of verse God's Trombones
and Complete Poems
Sondra Kathryn Wilson is the executor of James Weldon Johnson's literary estate and the editor of several volumes of his writings.