Reading and revisiting novels, memoirs, poems, etc., from different time periods is so important so we never forget about the people and the work that came before us and all the luxuries we have now.
Georgia Douglas Johnson was an incredible writer, poet, and playwright whose work was prominent during the Harlem Renaissance era and gave readers a glimpse of what life was like for a Black woman living in America during the 20th century.
Georgia was born in Atlanta in 1877 or 1880, as scholars haven’t been able to confirm her official birthdate. She was always a very bright student and played the violin growing up. After graduating from high school in 1893, she began working as a teacher and took on an assistant principal position in Atlanta.
A few years later, Georgia decided to pursue a music career and moved to Ohio in the early 1900s to study music, harmony, and voice at the Oberlin Conservatory and the Cleveland College of Music.
In 1903, Georgia married Henry Lincoln Johnson, a prominent lawyer and member of the Republican party in Atlanta at the time. Georgia and Henry had two sons together during their first few years of marriage. Georgia would use any spare time to write stories and poems to submit to local publications. Additionally, she’d teach and play music at local churches.
Georgia and her family underwent a big change in 1910 when her husband was appointed President William Howard Taft’s Recorder of Deeds, forcing them to relocate to Washington, D.C.
There. Georgia became even more inspired to pursue writing as a career and continued to submit her work to various publications. In 1916, she was first published in NAACP’s Crisis Magazine and came out with her first book of poems, “The Heart of a Woman,” just two years later.
Her second book, “Bronze,” was published in 1922, and she was praised for honestly detailing her experience as a Black woman in America. Around this time, she started working with the famous W.E.B. DuBois, who acted as her mentor, co-writer, and critic.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Georgia set out on a mission to create a safe space for Black people in her community during the Harlem Renaissance outside of New York City. She welcomed brilliant Black writers, artists, and thinkers into her home and held meetings called “S Street Salons.”