The Autobiography of an Ex-colored Man

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Dover Publications, Incorporated, 1995 - Biography & Autobiography - 100 pages
One of the most prominent African-Americans of his time, James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) was a successful lawyer, educator, social reformer, songwriter, and critic. But it was as a poet and novelist that he achieved lasting fame.
Among his most famous works, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man in many ways parallels Johnson's own remarkable life. First published in 1912, the novel relates, through an anonymous narrator, events in the life of an American of mixed ethnicity whose exceptional abilities and ambiguous appearance allow him unusual social mobility — from the rural South to the urban North and eventually to Europe.
A radical departure from earlier books by black authors, this pioneering work not only probes the psychological aspects of "passing for white" but also examines the American caste and class system. The human drama is powerful and revealing — from the narrator's persistent battles with personal demons to his firsthand observations of a Southern lynching and the mingling of races in New York's bohemian atmosphere at the turn of the century.
Revolutionary for its time, the Autobiography remains both an unrivaled example of black expression and a major contribution to American literature.

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User Review  - Kristelh - LibraryThing

A free audio from Audio sync summer program. This is fiction written as autobiography where a young man who didn't know he was black because he was so light skinned until he was confronted with the ... Read full review

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User Review  - lilibrarian - LibraryThing

The fictionalized story of a fair-skinned colored man who must decide whether he wants to live life as a black man, or leave everything and pass as white. Read full review

Contents

Chapter 1
1
Chapter X
69
Chapter XI
90
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About the author (1995)

Born in Jacksonville Fla. in 1871, James Weldon Johnson was one of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. His career was varied and included periods as a teacher, lawyer, songwriter (with his brother J. Rosamond Johnson), and diplomat (as United States Consul to Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, from 1906 to 1909). Among Johnson's most famous writings are Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man, published anonymously in 1912, and God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse (1927), the winner of the Harmon Gold Award. He was also editor of several anthologies of African-American poetry and spirituals, and in 1933 his autobiography, Along This Way, was published. James Weldon Johnson served as Secretary to the NAACP from 1916 to 1930 and was a professor of literature at Fisk University in Nashville from 1930 until his death in 1938.

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