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The life of composer,James Weldon Jonson, and how his song affected America. By: Erica Thomas
James Weldon Johnson o Born in 1871 in Jacksonville, Florida to James and Helen Johnson during a time of heavy racism and open discrimination. oJohnson’s father taught he and his brother, J. Rosamond, the importance of uplifting the African- American community and being all they could be no matter their skin color.
o Seeing the racial issues inEarly Community America, Johnson soon became Involvement committed to making a difference in his community. oReceived his BA degree from Atlanta University in 1894. oAppointed principal of Staton School; which he later expanded to high school status making it the first public high school for African Americans in Florida. oFounded The Daily American, an afternoon daily serving Florida’s A.A. population. Atlanta University oJohnson became locally known for his writings and leadership.
Writing Lift Every o In 1900, Johnson and his Voice and Sing brother, J. Rosamond, wrote Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing to be sung at Staton School’s Lincoln Birthday celebration. o The year 1900 was only 35 years after the end of the Civil War and 25 years into the establishment of the Jim Crow laws. o After the song was complete, it was published in The Daily American and printed for 500 school children to sing for the celebration.James Weldon Johnson and his brother, J. Rosamond
Popularity Of The Song o Johnson and his brother moved to New York shortly after the performance, leaving the memory of the song behind. o The school children and people in the community continued to sing and teach the song to others. o In 20 years, Lift Ev’ry Voice A group of school children; the mainreason for the popularity of Lift Ev’ry and Sing was being sung all Voice and Sing. over the south.
o In New York, Johnson Negro National continued his work as a Anthem community leader through literature and public action. o Johnson was appointed Chief Secretary of the Nation Asso. Of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) during the 1920’s Harlem Renaissance. o Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing had become a very popular song in the A.A. community. o NAACP adopted the song as its official song, sparking theA group of NAACP members reference to the song as the Negro National Anthem.
Influence On The Community oSince the 1920s, Lift every Voice and sing has become one of the most beloved songs in the African American community. Taught foryears in schools, churches, and civicorganizations and sung throughout the civil rights movement of the 1950s, it is still heard in gatherings across America. James Weldon Johnson’s lyrics pay homage to a history of struggle but never waivers from a sense of optimism for the future.
Influence On The Community Con. Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing’s message of strength and hope has made the song a source of inspiration for generation after generation to break down the racial walls and help shape the ever-progressingAmerican Nation. This sense of perseverance and progression, promoted by Lift Every Voice and Sing, is what helped create avenues for American leaders, such as: George Washington Carver, Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Malcolm X, Condoleezza Rice, Oprah Whinfrey, and President Barak Obama.
Lift every voice and sing,1st Stanza of Lift Every Til earth and heaven ring,Voice and Sing Ring with the harmonies of Liberty; Let our rejoicing rise High as the listening skies, Let it resound loud as the rolling sea. Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us; Facing the rising sun of our new day begun, Let us march on til victory is won.