Celebrating African American History Month by remembering James Weldon Johnson (1871 – 1938).
James Weldon Johnson was an educator, a lawyer, a newspaperman, United States consular officer and secretary of the NAACP, a librettist, songwriter, historian, novelist, biographer, and poet. These are just a few of the many hats one black man wore, so that African Americans today would be proud of the ancestors who came after the Ancestors.
Johnson is well known for many literary works, among them, Black Manhattan, The Autobiography of an ex-Colored Man, and The African-American National Anthem: LIFT EV’RY VOICE AND SING. Read and memorize the words below, if you have not already done so. Listen to the recording below, and learn this very powerful and inspirational anthem.
LIFT EV’RY VOICE AND SING
(African-American National Anthem)
Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring.
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 till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered.
We have come, treading our paths through the blood of the slaughtered.
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we meet Thee;
Lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world we forget thee,
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.