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James Weldon Johnson James Weldon Johnson was born in Jacksonville Florida on June 17 1871 He was the second of three children Johnson was an American author lawyer and diplomat He was educated at Atlanta and Columbia universities In 1898 he became the first black lawyer admitted to the bar in Duval County Florida He practiced law in Florida until 1902 In that year Johnson moved to New York and collaborated on the well-known song Lift Every Voice and Sing Later Johnson served as US consul in Venezuela from 1906 to 1909 and in Nicaragua from 1909 to 1912 This is the year that The Autobiography of an Ex- Coloured Man was published The Autobiography of an Ex- Coloured Man was Johnsons best-known book This novel examined race relations in the United States through its narrator who wrestles with the question of his racial identity This is the story of a nameless protagonist who because his physical appearance is not identifiably black he is able to assume the identity of a white American and pass As I analyze Johnsons work there are several critical concepts that apply to this particular piece of work I would like to examine double consciousness and passing In the book The Autobiography of an Ex- Coloured Man the narrator is extremely light-skinned and the truth of his race is kept from him His mother raised him She was a seamstress and a former servant His father was her white master They moved from Georgia to Connecticut at an early age there Johnson learned from his teacher that he was black This discovery was a traumatic one for him As he adjusts to that information he gets into literature and music to find his identity and heritage The first thing that this powerful piece of writing explores is the idea of Double Consciousness Double Consciousness is the sense of looking at ones self through the eyes of others of measuring ones
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