Preface of the Epiphany
[Common of an Artist, Writer, or Composer]
[For Artists and Writers]
PRAYER (traditional language)
Eternal God, who gave thy servant James Weldon Johnson a heart and voice to praise thy Name in verse: As he gave us powerful words to glorify thee, may we also speak with joy and boldness to banish hatred from thy creation; in the Name of Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
PRAYER (contemporary language)
Eternal God, who gave your servant James Weldon Johnson a heart and voice to praise your Name in verse: As he gave us powerful words to glorify you, may we also speak with joy and boldness to banish hatred from your creation; in the Name of Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This commemoration adopted provisionally at General Convention 2009
Collects revised at General Convention 2015.
Return to Lectionary
Last updated: 24 April 2016
JAMES WELDON JOHNSON
Weldon Johnson (June 17, 1871 – June 26, 1938) was an American author,
politician, diplomat, critic, journalist, poet, anthologist, educator,
lawyer, songwriter, and early civil rights activist. Johnson is remembered
best for his writing, which includes novels, poems, and collections of
folklore. He was also one of the first African-American professors at
New York University. Later in life he was a professor of creative literature
and writing at Fisk University.
He was born in Jacksonville, Florida, into a middle-class black family
of Bahamian ancestry. He graduated from Atlanta University and became
the first African-American admitted to the Florida bar. From 1906 to 1913
he was Consul in Venezuela and then Nicaragua; during this period he wrote
the fictional Autobiography
of an Ex-Colored Man.
In 1913 he returned to the U. S., lived in New York, and engaged initially
in songwriting and the theater with his brother, but then became involved
in political activism.
In the fall of 1916, because Johnson excelled as a reconciler of differences
among those whose ideological agendas seemed to preclude unified, cooperative
action, he was asked to become the national organizer for the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Opposing race
riots in northern cities and the lynchings that pervaded the South during
and immediately after the end of World War I, Johnson engaged the NAACP
in mass tactics, such as a silent protest parade down New York's Fifth
Avenue in which ten thousand African Americans took part on July 28, 1917.
In 1920 Johnson was elected to manage the NAACP, the first African American
to hold this position. While serving the NAACP from 1914 through 1930
Johnson started as an organizer and eventually became the first black
male secretary in the organization's history. Throughout the 1920s he
was one of the major inspirations and promoters of the Harlem Renaissance
trying to refute condescending white criticism and helping young black
authors to get published. While serving in the NAACP Johnson was involved
in sparking the drive behind the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill of 1921.
By the 1930's, he had tired of politics, and "retired" as Professor
of Creative Literature and Writing at Fisk University. He died in an automobile
accident in Maine in 1938.
— more at Wikipedia
Johnson is well-known as a poet and author. Some of his published works
* To a Friend (1892)
* A Brand (1893)
* The Color Sergeant (1898)
Every Voice and Sing (1899)
* Sense You Went Away (1900)
* The Black Mammy (1900)
* O Black and Unknown Bards (1908)
* Brothers (1916)
Years and Other Poems (1917)
* My City (1923)
Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse (1927)
* Saint Peter Relates an Incident (1935)
* The Glory of the Day was in Her Face
Other works and collections:
Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912/1927)
* Second Book of Negro Spirituals
* Negro Americans, What Now?
This Way (autobiography)
Writings of James Weldon Johnson