Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa This land is ours by right of birth, This land is ours by right of toil; We helped to turn its virgin earth, Our sweat is in its fruitful soil.
James Weldon Johnson's Preface to The Book of American Negro Poetry T here is, perhaps, a better excuse for giving in Anthology of American Negro Poetry to the public than can be offered for many of the anthologies that have recently been issued.
The public, generally speaking, does not know that there are American Negro poets--to supply this lack of information is, alone, a work worthy of somebody's effort. Moreover, the matter of Negro poets and the production of literature by the colored people in this country involves more than supplying information that is lacking.
It is a matter which has a direct bearing on the most vital of American problems. A people may become great through many means, but there is only one measure by which its greatness is recognized and acknowledged. The final measure of the greatness of all peoples is the amount and standard of the literature and art they have produced.
The world does not know that a people is great until that people produces great literature and art. No people that has produced great literature and art has ever been looked upon by the world as distinctly inferior.
The status of the Negro in the United States is more a question of national mental attitude toward the race than of actual conditions. And nothing will do more to change that mental attitude and raise his status than a demonstration of intellectual parity by the Negro through the production of literature and art.
Is there likelihood that the American Negro will be able to do this? There is, for the good reason that he possesses the innate powers. He has the emotional endowment, the originality and artistic conception, and, what is more important, the power of creating that which has universal appeal and influence.
I make here what may appear to be a more startling statement by saying that the Negro has already proved the possession of these powers by being the creator of the only things artistic that have yet sprung from American soil and been universally acknowledged as distinctive American products.
These creations by the American Negro may be summed up under four heads. The first two are the Uncle Remus stories, which were collected by Joel Chandler Harris, and the "spirituals" or slave songs, to which the Fisk Jubilee Singers made the public and the musicians of both the United States and Europe listen.
The Uncle Remus stories constitute the greatest body of folk lore that America has produced, and the "spirituals" the greatest body of folk song. I shall speak of the "spirituals" later because they are more than folk songs, for in them the Negro sounded the depths, if he did not scale the heights, of music.
The other two creations are the cakewalk and ragtime. We do not need to go very far back to remember when cakewalking was the rage in the United States, Europe and South America.
Society in this country and royalty abroad spent time in practicing the intricate steps. Paris pronounced it the "poetry of motion. The influence can be seen today on any American stage where there is dancing. The influence which the Negro has exercised on the art of dancing in this country has been almost absolute.James Weldon Johnson had many roles—lawyer, activist, politician, diplomat, journalist, songwriter, and anthologist—but he is perhaps best remembered for his writings, including his.
James Fenton; Lawrence Ferlinghetti Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs, That on a wild secluded scene impress. Get more Poetry Analysis like this in your inbox. Subscribe to our mailing list and get new poetry analysis updates straight to your inbox.
We respect your privacy and take protecting it . As James Weldon Johnson’s poem, “Behold de Rib,” clearly illustrates, if God had intended for woman to be dominated, then she would have been created from .
Poem Hunter all poems of by James Weldon Johnson poems. 63 poems of James Weldon Johnson. Still I Rise, The Road Not Taken, If You Forget Me, Dreams, Annabel Lee James Weldon Johnson Poems - Poems of James Weldon Johnson - Poem Hunter.
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“To America” by James Weldon Johnson was first published in the issue of The Crisis, a magazine founded by W. E. B.
Du Bois to be the premier crusading voice for civil rights. facebook. twitter. tumblr. embed poem. This poem is in the public domain.