“I’ll Make Me a World”: James Weldon Johnson’s God’s Trombones in the African American Poetic Tradition Exhibit by Noelle Morrissette will be on display in the Hodges Reading Room of UNCG Special Collections and University Archives on the second floor of Jackson Library March 12-16, 2018, from 9 am – 5 pm. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
Johnson emphasized the story of a black poetic tradition in The Book of American Negro Poetry (1922, 1931), The Book of American Negro Spirituals (1925) and the Second Book of American Negro Spirituals (1926), the anthologies of poetry and the spirituals that he collected in the 1920s.
Johnson’s lengthy, groundbreaking introductions to these works framed African American culture in a critical conversation about American literary and cultural traditions. His God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse (1927) honored the creative, spiritual and political legacy of the black church and its sermonic tradition, a dynamic and sustaining culture for African Americans that could, in Johnson’s view, sustain the nation.