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The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

Cover of The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

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James Weldon Johnson's The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man takes place in post Reconstruction era America and follows the story of a young biracial male. Johnson poses a complex dilemma: because the "Ex-Colored Man," which is the only name by which the protagonist is referred, represents what, at the time was, a social contradiction of race and culture, he is forced to choose which aspect of his heritage to publicly express. His options are to embrace his black heritage and culture, or to pass as a white man cloaked in middle-class, mediocre obscurity. Johnson's novel explores racial tensions in late nineteenth and early twentieth century culture through this poignant coming of age story.

James Weldon Johnson's The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man takes place in post Reconstruction era America and follows the story of a young biracial male. Johnson poses a complex dilemma: because the "Ex-Colored Man," which is the only name by which the protagonist is referred, represents what, at the time was, a social contradiction of race and culture, he is forced to choose which aspect of his heritage to publicly express. His options are to embrace his black heritage and culture, or to pass as a white man cloaked in middle-class, mediocre obscurity. Johnson's novel explores racial tensions in late nineteenth and early twentieth century culture through this poignant coming of age story.

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About the Author-
  • 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.

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  • AudioFile Magazine This 1912 novel is a fictional autobiography of an unnamed biracial man, with lessons and observations that are still fresh today. Alan Bomar Jones performs in a smooth voice. He adopts cultured, barely inflected tones for the narrative and the protagonist's dialogue, while using strong Southern and New York accents for the dialogue of other African-Americans. Jones's uninflected Spanish, French, and German phrases contrast sharply with Johnson's descriptions of the protagonist's near-native fluency. Full of sophisticated vocabulary, thoughtful ruminations, and detailed observations, the autobiography is replete with long discussions of race and discrimination as the hero travels throughout the South, New York, Boston, and Europe. Author James Weldon Johnson was a Harlem Renaissance writer as well as an educator, musician, and lawyer. M.B.K. © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
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    Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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James Weldon Johnson
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