Review: The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson

Currently, for my History of the African-American Novel class, I’m reading Nella Larsen’s Passing, which I read in high school and quite liked. (It’s so interesting to revisit books, especially given such a shift in consciousness.) But Passing is a very well-known novel; I was much more fascinated by the texts I’d never heard of on our syllabus, like Clotel, or the President’s Daughter and Iola Leroy, or Shadows Uplifted and, of course, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, whose title, for no particular reason, puts me in mind of The Invisible Man. (There’s also Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, which we talked about but did not read.) Classes like these are hugely important, especially when it comes to uncovering and analyzing texts that might fade away or otherwise not occur to some people.

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