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The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man


The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

ratings:
4.5/5 (10 ratings)
Length:
5 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Dec 20, 2010
ISBN:
9781452670614
Format:
Audiobook

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Description

James Weldon Johnson's emotionally gripping novel is a landmark in black literary history and, more than eighty years after its original anonymous publication, a classic of American fiction. The first fictional memoir ever written by a black, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man influenced a generation of writers during the Harlem Renaissance and served as eloquent inspiration for Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, and Richard Wright. In the 1920s and since, it has also given white readers a startling new perspective on their own culture, revealing to many the double standard of racial identity imposed on black Americans.



Narrated by a mulatto man whose light skin allows him to "pass" for white, the novel describes a pilgrimage through America's color lines at the turn of the century-from a black college in Jacksonville to an elite New York nightclub, from the rural South to the white suburbs of the Northeast. This is a powerful, unsentimental examination of race in America, a hymn to the anguish of forging an identity in a nation obsessed with color.
Publisher:
Released:
Dec 20, 2010
ISBN:
9781452670614
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

About the author

James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) was an African American writer and civil rights activist. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, he obtained an education from a young age, first by his mother, a musician and teacher, and then at the Edwin M. Stanton School. In 1894, he graduated from Atlanta University, a historically Black college known for its rigorous classical curriculum. With his brother Rosamond, he moved to New York City, where they excelled as songwriters for Broadway. His poem “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” (1899), set to music by Rosamond, eventually became known as the “Negro National Anthem.” Over the next several decades, he dedicated himself to education, activism, and diplomacy. From 1906 to 1913, he worked as a United States Consul, first in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, and then in Nicaragua. He married Grace Nail, an activist and artist, in 1910, and would return to New York with her following the end of his diplomatic career. While in Nicaragua, he wrote and anonymously published The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912), a novel exploring the phenomenon of racial passing. In 1917, Johnson began his work with the NAACP, eventually rising to the role of executive secretary. He became known as a towering figure of the Harlem Renaissance, writing poems and novels as well as compiling such anthologies as The Book of American Negro Poetry (1922). For his contributions to African American culture as an artist and patron, his activism against lynching, and his pioneering work as the first African American professor at New York University, Johnson is considered one of twentieth century America’s leading cultural figures.


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4.3
10 ratings / 7 Reviews
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  • (4/5)
    A free audio from Audio sync summer program. This is fiction written as autobiography where a young man who didn't know he was black because he was so light skinned until he was confronted with the truth as student. He was a smart young man with plans to attend college and then his mother died. His dream was gone and he took to drifting around the south where he learned about being black. Then he met a millionaire who took good care of him (very much like the good slave owner) and he traveled to Europe with him. This really is a book that looks at racism in the early 1900s. It reminds me of another book that I read that was written in this time which also reads like a sociology book of the time. In the end, after witnessing a lynching, the man decides to live as white. The last is called passing. The man decides to pass as white and thereby he gives up his gifted talent as a black musician and lives a life of mediocrity.
  • (3/5)
    The fictionalized story of a fair-skinned colored man who must decide whether he wants to live life as a black man, or leave everything and pass as white.
  • (5/5)
    A deeply moving, un-coloured (no pun intended) account of a life lived in constant strain over what seems such a trifling detail. Peppered with tragedies small and large of both spirit and flesh, the authors reflections open up a world wherein so many doors were closed to so many- a world where those who opened them against taboos were forced to deny and obfuscate to the extent that they were almost destroyed in the doing. The events described alone are fascinating, and the poignant reflections add yet more gravity.
  • (3/5)
    The fictionalized story of a fair-skinned colored man who must decide whether he wants to live life as a black man, or leave everything and pass as white.
  • (3/5)
     A fine book, more notable for it's place as a pioneering work in African American literature than any literary qualities. It interests me as an inversion of the more common narrative in which a black protagonists opts for a life of public excellence in service to the race, rather than a life of more quiet personal fulfillment. In this way, it reminds me of books like the Damnation of Theron Ware or Main Street, and the "confession" of a black man who chooses to pass for white gives the novel an easily accessible layer of social critique.
  • (4/5)
    This is an amazing, very American story of an educated, fortunate boy, the son of a black woman and a white man, who comes to love listening to and playing music. His absent father loves him and his mother and provides much. Growing up in Connecticut, believing he is white; he is soon stunned to learn he is considered black by society. He discusses race with his mother and others. He is intelligent and well-read, and wishing to portray black Americans in a positive light, determines he will find some meaningful work after college. But his plans to attend Atlanta University fall apart after he is robbed; his life now takes a different turn. He finds various jobs, makes money and friends easily, gambles, winning and losing, drinks but never too much. He impresses a wealthy patron with his music, and travels through Europe with him. Maturity sets in as he realizes that this play life has kept him from his plans for serious work. Returning to the US he commits himself anew to his plan to gather information about race relations by traveling through the South and seeing how blacks live first hand. His reactions and commentary are honest, smart but surprisingly brutal. After seeing a horrendous, egregious event he is mortified by the state of the country, and gives up his life’s plans, changing to a totally different course. Good, strong read.
  • (5/5)
    This novel holds up extremely well.