James Weldon Johnson

Like Du Bois, the poet James Weldon Johnson found inspiration in African-American spirituals. His poem "O Black and Unknown Bards" (1917) asks:

Heart of what slave poured out such melody
As "Steal Away to Jesus?" On its strains
His spirit must have nightly floated free,
Though still about his hands he felt his chains.

Of mixed white and black ancestry, Johnson explored the complex issue of race in his fictional Autobiography of an Ex- Colored Man (1912), about a mixed-race man who "passes" (is accepted) for white. The book effectively conveys the black American's concern with issues of identity in America.