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FutureStarrGeorgia Douglas Johnson Poems
Today marks 100 years since Georgia Douglas Johnson, America’s first woman of color, opened the doors of the Association for the Advancement of Colored People (ACAP). Just by her sheer persistence, she had this to say about the struggle against racism: "the battle is between the people who have an unconscious belief in the superiority of the Caucasian race, and the people who have an unconscious belief in the inferiority of the colored race".
Johnson’s house at 1461 S Street NW, which came to be known as site of the S Street Salon, was an important meeting place for writers of the Harlem Renaissance in Washington, D.C. Johnson published her first poems in 1916 in the NAACP’s magazine Crisis. Her weekly column, “Homely Philosophy,” was published from 1926 to 1932. She wrote numerous plays, including Blue Blood (performed 1926) and Plumes (performed 1927). Johnson traveled widely in the 1920s to give poetry readings. In 1934 she lost her job in the Department of Labor and returned to supporting herself with temporary clerical work.
Like several other plays that prominent women of the Harlem Renaissance wrote, A Sunday Morning in the South (1925) was provoked by the inconsistencies of American life. These included the contrast between Christian doctrine and white America's treatment of black Americans, the experience of black men who returned from fighting in war to find they lacked constitutional rights, the economic disparity between whites and blacks, and miscegenation. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)
Georgia Douglas Johnson (September 10, 1880–May 14, 1966) was among the women who were Harlem Renaissance figures. She was a poet, playwright, editor, music teacher, school principal, and pioneer in the Black theater movement and wrote more than 200 poems, 40 plays, 30 songs, and edited 100 books. She challenged both racial and gender barriers to succeed in these areas. Though Johnson never found great success as a playwright or poet during her lifetime, she was influential to generations of noted Black writers and playwrights who came after. Her home was an important meeting place where leading Black thinkers would come to discuss their lives, ideas, and projects, and, indeed, she came to be known as the "Lady Poet of the New Negro Renaissance."
The poems established Johnson "as one of the notable African American woman poets of her time. Built on themes of loneliness, isolation, and the confining aspects of the roles of women, the title poem substitutes the metaphor of 'a lone bird, soft winging, so restlessly on' for 'the heart of a woman,' which ultimately 'falls back with the night / And enters some alien cage in its plight, / And tries to forget it has dreamed of the stars.'" (Source: www.thoughtco.com)