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The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man Paperback – March 15, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1456314880 ISBN-10: 1456314882

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 92 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1456314882
  • ISBN-13: 978-1456314880
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

<DIV>James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) was an American author, politician, diplomat, critic, journalist, poet, anthologist, educator, lawyer, songwriter, and early civil rights activist. James is remembered best for his leadership within the NAACP, as well as for his writing, which includes novels, poems, and collections of folklore. His most famous book is The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. He also published The Book of American Negro Spirituals, Black Manhattan, and Negro Americans, What Now? One of the first African American professors at New York University, James also served as a professor of creative literature and writing at Fisk University. Alan Bomar Jones is an international stage actor who has appeared in over sixty professional theatrical shows, performing from Canada to California. His offstage credits include two made-for-TV movies, several independent films, and various local commercials. As an independent voice-over artist, Alan works from his home producing books and commercials.</div>

Customer Reviews

I just finished reading this book and it was very interesting.
Memphis Diva
As the US and African-Americans still deal with the past issues about race, this story is still relevant and important to us today.
Candice J. Burris
The story was told from a perspective that draws the reader in and makes them hope for a good outcome for the character.
Melissa Papenfus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on September 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Perhaps best known for writing the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing , James Weldon Johnson wrote one of the first novels to probe the ambiguities of race, the novel The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man. As a boy, the fictional title character is sent North with his Mother to be raised in Connecticut. He does extremely well in school and is even something of a musical prodigy.
But, he is stunned when one day in school a teacher asks the white students to stand, and scolds him when he joins them. He confronts his fair skinned mother and she reveals that she is indeed black and his father is a white Southern gentleman. His father later comes to visit, and even buys him a piano, but the child is unable to approach and deal with him.
As a young man, the death of his mother & sale of their house leaves him with a small stake & he determines to attend college. Though qualified, he rules out Harvard for financial reasons & heads back down South to attend Atlanta University. However, his stake is stolen from his boarding house room before he can register & he ends up with a job in a cigar factory.
When the factory closes, he heads North again, this time to New York City and discovers Ragtime music and shooting craps, excelling at the one & nearing ruin in the other. A white gentleman who has heard him play enters into an exclusive agreement to have him play at parties & subsequently takes him along on a tour of Europe.
Inevitably, he is drawn back to America and to music. He tours the South collecting musical knowledge so that he will be able to compose a uniquely American and Black music. But his idyll is shattered when he sees a white lynch mob burn a black man.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Hugh Pearson on November 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book several years back, as part of the research for my second book. I cannot recommend any book more highly. Anyone interested at all in African American life from the 1880s to the 1930s (particularly as it was lived in New York City from about 1899 to the Harlem Renaissance) should buy it. There is not a more fascinating autobiography in print anywhere! And the life of this man! He was the founder of the first high school for African Americans in the state of Florida, located in Jacksonville (the high school my own mother would attend); the first African American to pass the bar exam in the state of Florida; part of the first successful African American Broadway composing team (after he left Jacksonville and moved to New York City); composer of the lyrics to, "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the song long considered the African American national anthem (his brother Rosamond composed the music); a consulate in Nicaragua and Venezuela; the first executive secretary of the NAACP, in which capacity he pioneered anti-lynching legislation (though he was unsuccessful in seeing it pass, the effort is described in the book, and is a fascinating lesson in the machinations of Congressional politics in the 1920s); author of groundbreaking fiction such as, "The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man"; author of the nonfiction classic, "Black Manhattan." The list goes on... His accomplishments, his dignity and intelligence were stunning, simply awe inspiring. And it is a real shame, an indication of how troubled our culture is, that Hollywood has never made a movie about his life, and he is barely mentioned as a key figure who shaped American culture (notice I didn't say African American culture, I said AMERICAN CULTURE). To everyone reading this review, BUY THIS BOOK.Read more ›
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
Many novels of the African-American experience in the United States use the theme of "passing". These novels generally involve a light-complexioned African-American who can "pass" for white. Among other things, novels based on a theme of "passing" allow the character and the author to comment upon black-white relationships in the United States from both sides -- from the black experience and from the white experience.

Both white and black authors have made extensive use of the theme of "passing". The earliest novel involving "passing" of which I am aware is by William Dean Howells in his short 1891 book, "An Imperative Duty" which dealt with an inter-racial marriage. The African-American novelist Nella Larsen wrote a novel titled "Passing" set in the Harlem Renaissance. More recently, Philip Roth's novel "The Human Stain" involves the story of Professor Coleman Silk, a distinguished academic and student of the classics who passes for many years as white.

Coleman Silk is the successor to the protagonist of James Weldon Johnson's only novel, "The Autobiography of an ex-colored Man" written in 1912. The unnamed protagonist of the book is an individual, like Roth's character Coleman Silk, with great intellectual and artistic gifts who is torn between the opportunities open to him as an, apparently, white person and his strong sense of black identity. Like Coleman Silk and the characters in most novels involving the theme of "passing", Johnson's protagonist marries a white woman and lives a life plagued with guilt regarding his abandonment of his heritage as an African-American. Johnson's short novel is, to my mind, the best written on the theme of "passing", and it is a fine novel indeed. The book initially was published anonymously.
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