Blackity Black History Month: ATL Icon Georgia Douglas Johnson
“Your world is as big as you make it.
I know, for I used to abide
In the narrowest nest in a corner,
My wings pressing close to my side.
But I sighted the distant horizon
Where the skyline encircled the sea
And I throbbed with a burning desire
To travel this immensity.
I battered the cordons around me
And cradled my wings on the breeze,
Then soared to the uttermost reaches
With rapture, with power, with ease!”
— Your World, a poem by Georgia Douglas Johnson
Georgia Douglas Johnson (September 10, 1880 – May 15, 1966), born in Atlanta, was one of the earliest African-American female playwrights, and an important figure of the Harlem Renaissance. She wrote plays, a syndicated newspaper column, and four collections of poetry: The Heart of a Woman (1918), Bronze (1922), An Autumn Love Cycle (1928), and Share My World (1962).
Johnson graduated from Atlanta University Normal College and studied music at the Oberlin Conservatory and the Cleveland College of Music. After graduation, she taught and worked as an assistant principal. In 1910 she moved with her husband to Washington, D.C.
Johnson’s house at 1461 S Street NW, which came to be known as site of the S Street Salon, was an important meeting place for writers of the Harlem Renaissance in Washington, D.C. Johnson published her first poems in 1916 in the NAACP’s magazine Crisis. Her weekly column, “Homely Philosophy,” was published from 1926 to 1932. She wrote numerous plays, including Blue Blood (performed 1926) and Plumes (performed 1927). Johnson traveled widely in the 1920s to give poetry readings.
Johnson received an honorary doctorate in literature from Atlanta University in 1965.
ABOUT BLACKITY BLACK HISTORY MONTH @ 85 NORTH
Each day this month, we'll be sharing wise words from Black Atlanta icons — some who are household names and some who you may not know. Atlanta history IS Black history, and this is our way of sharing it.