Cover image for Lift every voice and sing : the Negro national anthem
Lift every voice and sing : the Negro national anthem
Johnson, James Weldon, 1871-1938.
Publication Information:
New York : Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children, 2000.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : illustrations ; 23 cm
Black-and-white photographs accompany this version of the song that has come to be considered the African American national anthem.
Program Information:
Reading Counts RC K-2 3.5 1 Quiz: 27731 Guided reading level: NR.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.3.J6334 LI 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area-Black History
PZ8.3.J6334 LI 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PZ8.3.J6334 LI 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



This uplifting tribute to one of the most beloved spirituals of all time celebrates the 100th anniversary of the spiritual's creation. This book includes vintage and modern photographs depicting the African American legacy of strength and triumph. Sheet music in the back of the book adds to the richness of the collection.

Author Notes

Born in Jacksonville Fla. in 1871, James Weldon Johnson was one of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. His career was varied and included periods as a teacher, lawyer, songwriter (with his brother J. Rosamond Johnson), and diplomat (as United States Consul to Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, from 1906 to 1909).

Among his most famous writings are Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man, published anonymously in 1912, and God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse (1927), the winner of the Harmon Gold Award. He was also editor of several anthologies of African-American poetry and spirituals, and in 1933 his autobiography, Along This Way, was published.

He served as Secretary to the NAACP from 1916 to 1930 and was a professor of literature at Fisk University in Nashville from 1930 until his death in 1938.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 3year 2001 marks the centennial of the song that the NAACP designated "Negro National Anthem." This book celebrates the song with 22 beautifully reproduced black-and-white photographs that mark the life and times of African American people from slavery to now. Except for the cute greeting-card cover photo, the pictures are as stirring as the words. Many of the photos are classic; some are new. Whether close-ups of individuals or panoramas of marching crowds, they make you hear the music. In a short introductory essay, Henrietta M. Smith (whose picture-book bibliography appears on p.1160) describes Johnson's career and explains that the song was created for a high-school chorus, with Johnson writing the words and his brother composing the music. It's the centennial of a song for all of us: parents and grandparents will share the history and the music with their children. Music notation is at the back of the book.--Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

In honor of this song's centennial anniversary, this volume collects 22 often stirring black-and-white archival photographs to illustrate Johnson's powerful lyrics, set to music by his brother, John Rosamond Johnson. Smith's rather spotty introduction offers a brief biographical sketch of the siblings and outlines the genesis of the song (though it is the back jacket flap that suggests that James W. Johnson was asked by the Florida high school where he served as principal to compose the song for a celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birthday). Two decades later, in 1920, the NAACP proclaimed the composition "The Negro National Anthem." Crisply reproduced photographs ranging from the sobering to the uplifting correspond to the words of the anthem. "Out from the gloomy past,/ Till now we stand at last/ Where the white gleam/ of our bright star is cast" shows an enchanting toddler girl in a white wool coat and matching hat holding hands with two adults among a crowd. A photograph of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech is paired with "Lest our feet stray from the places,/ Our God, where we met Thee.... " Other memorable shots include the scarred back of a captive man ("Stony the road we trod,/ Bitter the chastening rod"), an exhausted boy cotton-picker asleep in the fields and a girl learning to read. Unfortunately, though the photos are credited, they neither include the year nor the context in which they were taken. The melody line concludes the book, and the many children featured in the photographs will draw a young audience into this affecting volume. All ages. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 8-A beautiful collection of black-and-white photographs are matched with the words of the song, which was composed in 1900 by James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson for a special celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birthday. The 22 archival photographs bring readers face-to-face with the power, strength, and dignity of a people. A back lashed with ugly scars; a child asleep on a sack of cotton; a pair of worn, weathered hands; three little girls singing in church; a line of marchers against a cloudy sky-these powerful images have an emotional appeal that transcends ethnic background. This stunning blend of poetry and visual images speaks to the human spirit.-Eunice Weech, M. L. King Elementary School, Urbana, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.