"And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said:
I'm lonely--
I'll make me a world."
(from "The Creation"; James Weldon Johnson)

Born: 1871; Jacksonville, Florida

James Weldon Johnson's poetry and music typically had a strongly religious theme, and he is perhaps best known for having written what was to become the "Negro National Anthem", "Lift Every Voice and Sing", in 1900 for the occasion of Abraham Lincoln's birthday. He tended to use the vernacular to present his poems and writings with a sort of familiar simplicity. He also achieved some degree of fame when collaborating with his brother, a composer, on songwriting for Broadway musicals, as well as in writing (under a pseudonym) the novel The Aubobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, which told the story of a musician who had lost contact with his native roots in order to live a life of comfort and materialism in the white world.

Johnson is now considered to be one of the more influential literary contributors to the Harlem Renaissance, especially in the religious sector, as he was the basis from which many others during the period gained their inspiration.