In Search of Democracy: The NAACP Writings of James Weldon Johnson, Walter White, and Roy Wilkins (1920-1977)

By Sondra Kathryn Wilson | Go to book overview

Speeches, Essays, and Articles, 1920–1937

Editor's Note

Atlanta University's male students founded the Phi Kappa Society in 1878. The society sponsored debates and other programs on topics of current interest. When James Weldon Johnson entered Atlanta University as a freshman in 1890, he joined the Phi Kappa Society. Elected president of the society in 1893, he became one of the best debaters in the university. During his student years at Atlanta, he was the recipient of numerous awards for his oratory skills, creative writing, and polemic essays. Johnson would ply his talent as a writer again on a regular basis as editor of the New York Age. Beginning in 1914, for nearly ten years he wrote a weekly column for the Age, the oldest of the New York black papers and one of the most influential in the nation. In the pages of the Age, he was exemplar as an agitator, a philosopher, a literary critic, and a mentor to aspiring creative artists. For seven years he was concurrently an editorial writer for the Age and an NAACP official. As an NAACP official he wrote for a number of publications, including the Crisis, American Mercury, the Nation, Harper's Magazine, the New York Herald Tribune, and the Amsterdam News. In the following selection of speeches, essays, and articles, Johnson consistently attempted to educate Americans in general, and black Americans in particular—as an essential for generating public opinion, which was indispensable for building the early civil rights movement.

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In Search of Democracy: The NAACP Writings of James Weldon Johnson, Walter White, and Roy Wilkins (1920-1977)
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