James Weldon Johnson: James Weldon Johnson was an author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter and civil rights activist. In 1920, he became the first black executive secretary of the NAACP, serving until 1930. Johnson was also a major figure of the Harlem Renaissance, writing poems, novels and anthologies. He wrote the lyrics to "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," considered by many as the Negro National Anthem. He also wrote the classic novel, "The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man."