Autobiography Of An Ex-Colored Man

1338 Words 6 Pages
James Weldon Johnson’s brief novel, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, testifies to a success that would be nonexistent were it not for learning from the oppression he faces. As slavery ended, white supremacy rises. Many Blacks moved in significant numbers to urban centers in the North, namely New York’s Harlem. For the Blacks to feel secure, they lived together in groups, thus forming Black neighborhoods. Out of these towns and era came many art influencers, such as Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, and Zora Neale Hurston. Their work transformed into the today known American and African American culture. Johnson remains conflicted about his racial identity due to his half white and half black ethnicity. This battle in one’s mind is called …show more content…
In Atlanta, Georgia, Johnson lives with three strangers. As he dresses to eat breakfast, he takes some money from his savings, which he keeps in the pocket of one of his coats in his suitcase. As Johnson leaves, one of the three roommates wakes up and tags along to eat at a local southern food restaurant with him. After coming back to their room, Johnson goes to his suitcase and recalls, "I began to dig down excitedly to the bottom till I reach the coat in which I had concealed my treasure. My money was gone! Every single bill of it” (Johnson 29). After returning from breakfast, Johnson discovers someone stole all of his money. The devastating discovery ruins all of Johnson’s plans as he now needs to find a job and financially maintain himself. He trusts the other men would respect his property and quickly learns to distrust others. When people come from the South, they came with nothing, especially if they were slaves. The southerners had to restart their lives and needed money. As a result, many plan to steal from others. Johnson did not find out who stole his money, but he did talk to one of the three strangers that still occupies the room. He gave Johnson advice, and with the help of his other friend, they give him idea to leave the city. This situation turns into a valuable life lesson as it can help Johnson to take care of his belongings. As a result, Johnson moves to Jacksonville …show more content…
Johnson has been a prodigy piano player since his youth. He practices every day until he starts working in Jacksonville. He lives in a house with many of his Cuban co-workers and does not understand them because he does not speak Spanish. After about a year, Johnson masters speaking the language and enjoys the company his friends offer at work and home. After working some time as a Tobacco leaf stripper, Johnson receives the promotion of "reader." Speaking Spanish allows Johnson to receive the best position available because in that position, all day the employee sits, settles arguments between co-workers, reads the newspaper and tells the workers the important news of the day. This position also came with a raise, which Johnson found beneficial. Due to the wage raise, he stops giving music lessons and stops his daily piano practices. Johnson's will to produce music starts to die due to an increase of work. He then leaves Jacksonville and heads to New York. He arrives with some of his friends, and they go out to clubs at night. In these clubs, Ragtime, a popular style of music, starts to spread. The way Ragtime sounds capture Johnson’s thoughts into wanting to play the piano again. As the music starts to play in the club, Johnson thought, “This was ragtime music, then a novelty in New York, and just growing to be a rage which has not yet subsided” (Johnson 46). Ragtime inspires Johnson to start

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