Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 279
Johnson’s most famous and most successful book is God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse (1927). The poems in this volume, written in the dialect and rhythm of Southern African American preachers, deal with good and evil in a sinful world.
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In 1933, Johnson published Along This Way: The Autobiography of James Weldon Johnson, a reflective and detailed account of his fascinating and varied life. The volume includes nineteen photographs of Weldon and his family and friends.
Wallace Thurman’s novel The Blacker the Berry (1929) was the first novel to explore prejudice within the African American community against those of darker skin. Emma Lou Brown’s journey to New York City echoes the Ex-Coloured Man’s in her enjoyment of the night life but is different because her acceptance is affected by her dark skin.
Zadie Smith’s debut novel White Teeth (2000) explores the life of a bi-racial woman in London. The novel, which treats serious themes with a great deal of humor, won Great Britain’s Whitbread Award for a first novel.
Jillian A. Sim’s essay “Fading to White,” originally published in American Heritage Magazine (1999), tells the story of the author’s discovery of a family secret: that her great-grandmother was an African American woman who spent most of her career after college “passing” as white.
In Who Is Black?: One Nation’s Definition (1991), F. James Davis examines the implications of the “one drop rule,” by which any person with the smallest amount of black ancestry is classified as black. As Davis explains, this rule applies only in the United States and only for African Americans—there is no similar rule for Asians, Latinos or other groups.