Thursday, June 25, 2015

Calendar of Saints: James Weldon Johnson (2)

Twice a week I post a quote from a saint from the Episcopal Calendar of Saints that week. They are to be meditative and mindful, playful and thought inducing. I hope they are helpful in your spiritual journeys.

James Weldon Johnson
June 25

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.


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