James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) was a leading American author, poet, early civil rights activist and a prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance. He is probably best remembered for his writing, which included novels, poems, and collections of folklore. He was one of the first African-American professors at New York University. During his work in the Foreign Service, Johnson became a published poet, with work printed in The Century Magazine and in The Independent. While serving the NAACP from 1920 through to 1931 - starting as an organiser and becoming the first black male secretary in the organisation's history - he continued to write and edit in a variety of genres. His works include: Fifty Years & Other Poems (1917), The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912), The Book of American Negro Poetry (1921), God's Trombones (1927), Black Manhattan (1930) and Negro Americans, What Now? (1934).