James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) was an American author, politician, diplomat, critic, journalist, poet, anthologist, educator, lawyer, songwriter, and early civil rights activist. James is remembered best for his leadership within the NAACP, as well as for his writing, which includes novels, poems, and collections of folklore. His most famous book is The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. He also published The Book of American Negro Spirituals, Black Manhattan, and Negro Americans, What Now? One of the first African American professors at New York University, James also served as a professor of creative literature and writing at Fisk University.