Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The book of American Negro Poetry - Produced by James Weldon Johnson (1922)

Chosen and Edited, with an Essay on the Negro's Creative Genius

Following is an excerpt from the preface of this book. 
This alone should pique your interest enough 
to stimulate you to continue reading. Enjoy :)

A people may become great through many means, but
there is only one measure by which its greatness is recog-
nized and acknowledged. The final measure of the great-
ness of all peoples is the amount and standard of the
literature and art they have produced. The world does
not know that a people is great until that people pro-
duces great literature and art. No people that has pro-
duced great literature and art has ever been looked upon
by the world as distinctly inferior.

The status of the Negro in the United States is more
a question of national mental attitude toward the race
than of actual conditions. And nothing will do more
to change that mental attitude and raise his status than
a demonstration of intellectual parity by the Negro
through the production of literature and art.

Is there likelihood that the American Negro will be
able to do this? There is, for the good reason that he
possesses the Innate powers. He has the emotional en-
dowment, the originality and artistic conception, and,
what is more important, the power of creating that which
has universal appeal and influence.

I make here what may appear to be a more startling
statement by saying that the Negro has already proved
the possession of these powers by being the creator of the
only things artistic that have yet sprung from American
soil and been universally acknowledged as distinctive
American products.

Author: Johnson, James Weldon, 1871-1938
Subject: American poetry -- African American authors
Publisher: New York : Harcourt, Brace and Company
Possible copyright status: NOT_IN_COPYRIGHT

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