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Black Manhattan

John Hope Franklin’s Memories of James Weldon Johnson

Duke University historian John Hope Franklin at age 93 recalls his encounters with James Weldon Johnson, author of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” at Fisk University in the 1930’s. 

170427Black Manhattan by James Weldon JohnsonKathryn Wilson (Illustrator), Sondra K. Wilson (Designed by)

In this classic work, first published in 1930, James Weldon Johnson, one of the leading lights of the Harlem Renaissance, combined the skills of the historian, social scientist, and the reporter to trace the New York black experience from the earliest settlements on Chatham Square during the pre-revolutionary period to the triumphant achievements of Harlem in the 1920’s. But Black Manhattan is by no means simply history; It illuminates Johnson and his contributions to both black literature and black organizations; it provides us with an intimate account of the black theatrical and musical world of which Johnson had been a part; and it raises searching questions about the black people’s struggle to find their identity. Black Manhattan remains one of the essential books on the black American experience, losing none of its resonance and value after many decades.

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