Georgia Douglas Johnson: Harlem Renaissance writer

Poet, playwright, writer, pioneer of Black Theater Georgia Douglas Johnson (September 10, 1880-May 14, 1966) was one of the female figures of the Harlem Renaissance. She is a pioneer of the black drama movement, a prolific writer of more than 28 plays and many poems. As a poet, writer and playwright, she challenges barriers of race and gender. She is known as the "Poetess of the New Black Renaissance". She is world-renowned for her four poems. Her works include "Women's Heart" (1918), " Bronze" (1922), " Autumn Love Cycle" (1928) and " Share My World".

Georgia Douglas Johnson: Harlem Renaissance writer


Georgia Douglas Johnson was born in Camp Douglas, Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia, as an inter-ethnic family. In 1893 she graduated from the Teachers College of the University of Atlanta.

Georgia Douglas taught in Marietta and Atlanta, Georgia. She left teaching in 1902 to attend the Oberlin School of Music, intending to become a composer. She returned to Atlanta to teach and became an assistant principal.

She married Henry Lincoln Johnson, a Republican lawyer and government worker active in Atlanta.

Writing and salon

The Douglas Johnson home in Georgia moved to Washington with her husband and two children in 1909. It is often a salon or meeting place for African American writers and artists. She calls her a halfway house, and she often welcomes people who have no other place to live.

Georgia Douglas Johnson published her first poem in the Crisis Magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1916 , and published her first collection of poems "Women's Heart" in 1918 , focusing on women's experiences .

Jesse Fawcett helped her choose the poems for this book. In the 1922 bronze collection, she responded to earlier criticisms and paid more attention to racial experience.

She wrote more than 200 poems, 40 songs, 30 songs, and edited 100 books in 1930. These are often carried out in the community venues of the so-called New Negro Theater: not for profit locations, including churches, YWCA, hotels, schools.

Many of her plays were written in the 1920s and belong to lynching dramas. At the time she was writing, organized opposition to lynching was part of social reform, although the incidence of lynching remained high, especially in the south.

Her husband reluctantly supported her writing career until his death in 1925. In that year, President Coolidge appointed Johnson as a commissioner of the Labor Department mediation, acknowledging her late husband’s support for the Republican Party. But she needs her writing to help herself and her children.

Her home was opened to African American artists of the time in the 1920s and early 1930s, including Langston Hughes , Cullen Committee , Angelina Grimke , WEB Du Bois , James Weldon Johnson , Alice Dunbar, Nelson , Mary Burrill and Anne Spencer.

Georgia Douglas Johnson continued to write in 1925, publishing her most famous book "The Fall of Love Cycle" . After her husband died in 1925, she struggled with poverty. She wrote a weekly syndicate for 1926-1932.

More difficult years

In 1934, in the abyss of the Great Depression , she lost her job at the Department of Labor. Douglas Johnson of Georgia worked as a teacher, librarian, and file clerk in the 1930s and 1940s.

She found it difficult to publish. Most of her anti-lynching articles in the 1920s and 1930s were not published at the time; some have been lost.

During the Second World War, she published poems and read some poems on radio programs. In the 1950s, Johnson found it difficult to publish poetry with more political information. She continued to write scripts for the Civil Rights Movement, but at that time other black female writers were more likely to be noticed and published, including Lorraine Hansberry, whose sun raisin dates back to 1959.

Due to her early interest in music, she included music in some scripts.

In 1965, the University of Atlanta awarded Douglas Johnson an honorary doctorate in Georgia.

She saw the education of her son; Henry Johnson Jr. completed the Law Schools of Bowdoin College and Howard University.

Peter Johnson attended Dartmouth College and Howard University School of Medicine.

Douglas Johnson, Georgia, died in 1966. Soon after completing a catalog of works, 28 scenes were mentioned.

Most of her unpublished works are lost, including many documents thrown away after the funeral.

In 2006, Judith Stephens published a book about Johnson's known plays.

Two anti-lynching dramas by Douglas Johnson in Georgia can be found here, discuss the issue: Antilynching Dramas

Background, family:

  • Father: Camp George
  • Mother: Camp Laura Jackson
  • Born in Atlanta, Georgia; the year of birth is uncertain, as early as 1877 and 1886
  • Her biracial heritage (both are African American, father is British, mother is Native American) is the subject she explores in some of her writings


  • University of Atlanta Teachers College (graduated in 1893)
  • Oberlin School of Music (1902)
  • Cleveland Conservatory of Music

Marriage, children:

  • Husband: Henry Lincoln Johnson (married in 1903; attorney; appointment of scribe, Washington, 1912; Republican National Committee, Georgia, 1920-1925)
  • Children: Henry Lincoln Johnson, Jr. (born in 1906) and Peter Douglas Johnson (born in 1907)

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