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With the possible exceptions of Dr. Alain Locke and W.E.B. Du Bois, no African American excelled on as many different levels as James Weldon Johnson. Along This Way--the first autobiography by a person of color to be reviewed in The New York Times--not only chronicles his life as an educator, lawyer, diplomat, newspaper editor, lyricist, poet, essayist, and political activist but also outlines the trials and triumphs of African Americans from post-Reconstruction to the rise and fall of the Harlem Renaissance. Born in Florida in 1871 to middle-class West Indian parents, Johnson recognized the challenges and absurdities of segregated America early on. But it was his experience as a tutor to rural blacks while a student at Atlanta University that was to alter the course of his life: "It was this period that marked the beginning of psychological change from boyhood to manhood," he writes. "It was this period that marked also the beginning of my knowledge of my own people as a race."
With a rare blend of pride and humility, Johnson recounts how he, among other accomplishments, became Florida's first black lawyer in 1898, a diplomat in Venezuela and Nicaragua, and lyricist for his brother Rosamond Johnson's famous song, "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Johnson's commentary on his epochal novel, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, as well as writings on his works of poetry--The Creation, God's Trombones, and Fifty Years and Other Poems--is priceless. Equally important are the logical and even-tempered opinions on race that he wrote for The New York Age, which offered comprehensive critiques of Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, and Marcus Garvey, along with his analysis of the racial climate while serving as head of the NAACP. This remarkable man left a mark on the 20th century that goes beyond the boundary of race. --Eugene Holley Jr. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Johnson's theme of moral cowardice sets his tragic story of a mulatto in the United States above other sentimental narratives. The unnamed narrator, the offspring of a black mother and white father, tells of his coming-of-age at the beginning of the 20th century. Light-skinned enough to pass for white but emotionally tied to his mother's heritage, he ends up a failure in his own eyes after he chooses to follow the easier path while witnessing a white mob set fire to a black man. Reader Allen Gilmore contributes a fine reading. Recommended, with hopes for an unabridged edition in the future.?Sandy Glover, West Linn P.L., Ore.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Great book of a black man passing & trying to find identity. As important as Invisible Man by Ellison
After the civil war and emancipation, a terrific tradition of African American literature emerged. I feel this is either forgotten or not emphasized today. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Francis C. Donnelly
Nice "Auto-biography" narrative which ventured into many new domains..about the concepts related to slavery and racism. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Hammad
Beautifully written. So engaging and fast paced. A definite page turner. Very vivid language that transport you back to this tumultuous period. Read morePublished 29 days ago by star struck
There's some controversy as to whether this book is a true autobiography or fiction. Either way, it is eminently believable and a fascinating journey.Published 1 month ago by see mars
The book starts off slow, but it is definitely worth the read. I found myself highlighting and re-reading many passages.Published 1 month ago by Randa Johnson