About J. Rosamond Johnson
J. Rosamond Johnson was an American composer and singer during the Harlem Renaissance. Johnson is most notable as the composer of the hymn "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which has come to be known in the United States as the "Negro National Anthem." His brother, the poet James Weldon Johnson, wrote the lyrics of the famous piece. It was first performed live by 500 Black American students from the segregated Stanton School (elementary/middle/junior high-level), Jacksonville, FL, in 1900. The song was published by Joseph W. Stern & Co., Manhattan, New York (later the Edward B. Marks Music Company).
He was born on August 11, 1873. He was the son of Helen Louise Dillet, a native of Nassau, Bahamas, and James Johnson. John's maternal great-grandmother, Hester Argo, had escaped from Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) during the revolutionary upheaval in 1802, along with her three young children, including (John Rosamond Johnson's grandfather), Stephen Dillet (1797-1880). Although originally headed to Cuba, their boat was intercepted by privateers and they were brought to Nassau, Bahamas instead. There they permanently settled. Stephen Dillet was the first man of color to win election to the Bahamian legislature in 1833 (ref. Along this Way, James Weldon Johnson's autobiography).