Johnson, James Weldon, 1871–1938, American author, b. Jacksonville, Fla., educated at Atlanta Univ. (B.A., 1894) and at Columbia. Johnson was the first African American to be admitted to the Florida bar and later was American consul (1906–12), first in Venezuela and then in Nicaragua. In 1930 he became a professor at Fisk Univ., and in 1934 a visiting professor at New York Univ. He helped found and was secretary (1916–30) of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. His novel Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man (1912), published anonymously, caused a great stir and was republished under his name in 1927. Among his other works are the words to Lift Every Voice and Sing (1900, repr. 1993), which has been called the African-American national anthem, Gods Trombones (1927), African-American sermons in verse, and Black Manhattan (1930). He wrote songs with his brother, John Rosamond Johnson .
See his autobiography, Along This Way (1933, repr. 1973) study by E. Levy (1973).