Johnson transformed memories of the sermons he heard in the late 1800s by renowned African American preachers into this now-classic work of original poetry. Basis for a PBS documentary on Johnson titled Lift Every Voice and Sing.More
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This production of James Weldon Johnson's book of African-American sermons in verse filled me with joy. Johnson's scholarly introduction is here, as well as an opening prayer and a closing hymn. And in between! The seven glorious poems, each read by a different actor, are given all of the dignity and cadence due to them. The responses of the congregation are a treasure. I cannot think of a better example of American poetry than this book, and this recording just became my favorite way to experience it. I will come back to it again and again.
Index of the poems
- Ruth Green