The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

A novel

Introduction by Henry Louis Gates
Look inside
Here is the groundbreaking classic novel of the Black experience in America, with an introduction by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

First published anonymously in 1912, this novel gave many white readers their first glimpse of the double standard—and double consciousness—that ruled the lives of Black people in America. Republished in 1927, at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, with an introduction by Carl Van Vechten, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man emerged as a groundbreaking document of African-American culture and an eloquent model for later novelists ranging from Zora Neale Hurston to Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison.

Narrated by a man whose light skin enables him to “pass” for white, the novel describes a journey through the strata of Black society at the turn of the century—from a cigar factory in Jacksonville to an elite gambling club in New York, from genteel aristocrats to the musicians who hammered out the rhythms of ragtime. The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man is a complex and moving examination of the question of race and an unsparing look at what it meant to forge an identity as a man in a culture that recognized nothing but color.
JAMES WELDON JOHNSON (1871–1938) was a novelist, poet, lawyer, editor,  ethnomusicologist, and coauthor of the hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is informally known as the Black national anthem. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, he was educated at Atlanta University and at Columbia University and was the first Black lawyer admitted to the Florida bar. He was also, for a time, a songwriter in New York, American consul in Venezuela and Nicaragua, executive secretary of the NAACP, and professor of creative literature at Fisk University. His other books include an autobiography, Along This Way and God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse. View titles by James Weldon Johnson
.
.

About

Here is the groundbreaking classic novel of the Black experience in America, with an introduction by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

First published anonymously in 1912, this novel gave many white readers their first glimpse of the double standard—and double consciousness—that ruled the lives of Black people in America. Republished in 1927, at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, with an introduction by Carl Van Vechten, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man emerged as a groundbreaking document of African-American culture and an eloquent model for later novelists ranging from Zora Neale Hurston to Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison.

Narrated by a man whose light skin enables him to “pass” for white, the novel describes a journey through the strata of Black society at the turn of the century—from a cigar factory in Jacksonville to an elite gambling club in New York, from genteel aristocrats to the musicians who hammered out the rhythms of ragtime. The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man is a complex and moving examination of the question of race and an unsparing look at what it meant to forge an identity as a man in a culture that recognized nothing but color.

Author

JAMES WELDON JOHNSON (1871–1938) was a novelist, poet, lawyer, editor,  ethnomusicologist, and coauthor of the hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is informally known as the Black national anthem. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, he was educated at Atlanta University and at Columbia University and was the first Black lawyer admitted to the Florida bar. He was also, for a time, a songwriter in New York, American consul in Venezuela and Nicaragua, executive secretary of the NAACP, and professor of creative literature at Fisk University. His other books include an autobiography, Along This Way and God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse. View titles by James Weldon Johnson

Excerpt

.

Praise

.

Books for Black History Month

Join Penguin Random House Education in celebrating the contributions of Black authors and illustrators. In honor of Black History Month in February, we are highlighting essential fiction and nonfiction to be shared and discussed by students and teachers alike. Black History Month – Middle School Black History Month – High School Explore additional books by

Read more

PRH Education High School Collections

All reading communities should contain protected time for the sake of reading. Independent reading practices emphasize the process of making meaning through reading, not an end product. The school culture (teachers, administration, etc.) should affirm this daily practice time as inherently important instructional time for all readers. (NCTE, 2019)   The Penguin Random House High

Read more

PRH Education Translanguaging Collections

Translanguaging is a communicative practice of bilinguals and multilinguals, that is, it is a practice whereby bilinguals and multilinguals use their entire linguistic repertoire to communicate and make meaning (García, 2009; García, Ibarra Johnson, & Seltzer, 2017)   It is through that lens that we have partnered with teacher educators and bilingual education experts, Drs.

Read more

PRH Education Classroom Libraries

“Books are a students’ passport to entering and actively participating in a global society with the empathy, compassion, and knowledge it takes to become the problem solvers the world needs.” –Laura Robb   Research shows that reading and literacy directly impacts students’ academic success and personal growth. To help promote the importance of daily independent

Read more