Johnson, James Weldon
- Eugene Levy
civil rights leader, poet, and novelist, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of James Johnson, a resort hotel headwaiter, and Helen Dillet, a schoolteacher. He grew up in a secure, middle-class home in an era, Johnson recalled in Along This Way (1933), when “Jacksonville was known far and wide as a good town for Negroes” because of the jobs provided by its winter resorts. After completing the eighth grade at Stanton Grammar School, the only school open to African Americans in his hometown, Johnson attended the preparatory school and then the college division of Atlanta University, where he developed skills as a writer and a public speaker. Following his graduation in 1894 Johnson returned to his hometown and became principal of Stanton School.
School teaching however did not satisfy his ambitions While continuing as principal Johnson started a short lived newspaper and ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.