African American Poetry (1870-1927): A Digital Anthology

Georgia Douglas Johnson, Biographical Note, "Caroling Dusk" (1927)

Many years ago a little yellow girl in Atlanta, Georgia, came across a poem in a current paper that told of a rose struggling to bloom in a window in New York City. A child tended this flower and her whole life was wrapt up in its fate. This poem was written by William Stanley Braithwaite, years before the world knew how marvellous was his mind. Some one told the reader of these lines that the writer was colored and straightway she began to walk upward toward him.

This little girl grew up, went to Atlanta University, Oberlin Conservatory, taught school, then married Henry Lincoln Johnson, always looking forward toward the light of the poet Braithwaite.

Then her husband was appointed Recorder of Deeds under Taft and she was moved by circumstances to the capital—Washington. Dean Kelly Miller at Howard University saw some of her poetic efforts and was pleased. Stanley Braithwaite was his friend and he directed her to send something to him at Boston. She did so, and then began a quickening and a realization that she could do!

Following this happy event, Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois of the Crisis brought out two poems from her pen that awakened the interest of readers. At this time Jessie Fauset, the novelist, was teaching French in Washington and very generously helped her to gather together material for her first book The Heart of A Woman with an introduction by William Stanley Braithwaite. This was followed by Bronze, a book of color with an introduction by W. E. B. Du Bois. Her third attempt in poetry was An Autumn Love Cycle with an introduction by Alain Locke, the editor of The New Negro. At present she is connected with the Department of Labor at Washington, as Commissioner of Conciliation. At her home there you may find the young writers gathered together almost any Saturday night exchanging ideas, reciting new poems or discussing plans for new creations.

Published in Caroling Dusk1927