Grace Nail Johnson

Grace Johnson bridal photo, Panama 1910
Grace Nail Johnson's husband James Weldon Johnson
The Johnson Residence, 187 West 135th Street, Manhattan, New York City

African-American civil rights activist and patron of the arts associated with the Harlem Renaissance, and wife of the writer and politician James Weldon Johnson.

- Grace Nail Johnson

3 related topics


James Weldon Johnson

American writer and civil rights activist.

Photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1932
Johnson lived here in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C., while serving as national organizer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Famously performed in the film Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), the song "Under the Bamboo Tree" was written by the Johnson brothers and Bob Cole for the Broadway show Sally in Our Alley (1902)
Aged around 30 at the time of this photo, James W. Johnson had already written "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" and been admitted to the Florida bar.

He was married to civil rights activist Grace Nail Johnson.

Heterodoxy (group)

The name adopted by a feminist debating group in Greenwich Village, New York City, in the early 20th century.

Photograph of American women replacing men fighting in Europe, 1945

Grace Nail Johnson was the only African American woman who belonged to Heterodoxy.


Genre of Christian music that is "purely and solely the creation" of generations of Black Americans, which merged African cultural heritage with the experiences of being held in bondage in slavery, at first during the transatlantic slave trade—the largest and one of the most inhumane forced migrations in recorded human history, and for centuries afterwards, through the domestic slave trade.

Engraving of Douglass from his 1845 narrative
Portrait of James Weldon Johnson in 1932
Fisk Jubilee Singers, 1875
Photograph of Harry T. Burleigh, 1936
Robert Nathaniel Dett in the 1920s
Mamie Smith

In their 1925 book, The Books of American Negro Spirituals, James Weldon Johnson and Grace Nail Johnson said that spirituals, which are "purely and solely the creation" of African Americans, represent "America's only type of folk music...When it came to the use of words, the maker of the song was struggling as best he could under his limitations in language and, perhaps, also under a misconstruction or misapprehension of the facts in his source of material, generally the Bible."