James Weldon Johnson Quotes.
In Berlin I especially enjoyed the orchestral concerts, and I attended a large number of them. I formed the acquaintance of a good many musicians, several of whom spoke of my playing in high terms.
There are a great many colored people who are ashamed of the cake-walk, but I think they ought to be proud of it.
Northern white people love the Negro in a sort of abstract way, as a race; through a sense of justice, charity, and philanthropy, they will liberally assist in his elevation.
It is from the blues that all that may be called American music derives it most distinctive characteristics.
This Great God, Like a mammy bending over her baby, Kneeled down in the dust Toiling over a lump of clay Till He shaped it in His own image.
I thought of Paris as a beauty spot on the face of the earth, and of London as a big freckle.
Labor is the fabled magician’s wand, the philosophers stone, and the cap of good fortune.
But I must own that I also felt stirred by an unselfish desire to voice all the joys and sorrows, the hopes and ambitions, of the American Negro, in classic musical form.
My mother was kept very busy with her sewing; sometimes she would have another woman helping her.
Lift every voice and sing Till earth and heaven ring, Ring with the harmonies of Liberty. Let our rejoicing rise high as the listening skies; Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Amsterdam was a great surprise to me. I had always thought of Venice as the city of canals; it had never entered my mind that I should find similar conditions in a Dutch town.
Make yourself as happy as possible, and try to make those happy whose lives come in touch with yours. But to attempt to right the wrongs and cease the sufferings of the world in general is a waste of effort.
It is strange how in some things honest people can be dishonest without the slightest compunction.
It is a struggle; for though the black man fights passively, he nevertheless fights; and his passive resistance is more effective at present than active resistance could possibly be. He bears the fury of the storm as does the willow tree.
She was my first love, and I loved her as only a boy loves.
Young man, young man, your arm’s too short to box with God.
The colored people of this country know and understand the white people better than the white people know and understand them.
My appearance was always good and my ability to play on the piano, especially ragtime, which was then at the height of its vogue, made me a welcome guest.
…evil is a force and, like the physical and chemical forces, we cannot annihilate it; we may only change its form. We light upon one evil and hit it with all the might of our civilization, but only succeed in scattering it into a dozen of other forms
Through my music teaching and my not absolutely irregular attendance at church, I became acquainted with the best class of colored people in Jacksonville.
I believe it to be a fact that the colored people of this country know and understand the white people better than the white people know and understand them.
Any musical person who has never heard a Negro congregation under the spell of religious fervor sing these old songs has missed one of the most thrilling emotions which the human heart may experience.
As yet, the Negroes themselves do not fully appreciate these old slave songs.
…one of the best things about running is that no matter how fast you’ve run in the past, running fast in the future does not come easily or with any guarantees.
The battle was first waged over the right of the Negro to be classed as a human being with a soul; later, as to whether he had sufficient intellect to master even the rudiments of learning; and today it is being fought out over his social recognition.
Shortly after this I was made a member of the boys’ choir, it being found that I possessed a clear, strong soprano voice. I enjoyed the singing very much.
It is from the blues that all that may be called American music derives its most distinctive character.
I had enjoyed life in Paris, and, taking all things into consideration, enjoyed it wholesomely.
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered, We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered.
Southern white people despise the Negro as a race, and will do nothing to aid in his elevation as such; but for certain individuals they have a strong affection, and are helpful to them in many ways.