Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

by

James Weldon Johnson

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An eloquent, bombastic preacher, John Brown captivates the crowd at the “big meeting” in Georgia by using his voice like an instrument during his sermon. He is also the only character in the book identified by his real name, which alludes to the 19th century white abolitionist John Brown, who led an armed raid in Virginia in an attempt to lead a slave rebellion in the South.

John Brown Quotes in Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man quotes below are all either spoken by John Brown or refer to John Brown. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism and the Color Line Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the W.W. Norton edition of Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man published in 2015.
Chapter 10 Quotes

I sat often with the tears rolling down my cheeks and my heart melted within me. Any musical person who has never heard a Negro congregation under the spell of religious fervor sing these old songs, has missed one of the most thrilling emotions which the human heart may experience. Anyone who can listen to Negroes sing, “Nobody knows de trouble I see, Nobody knows but Jesus,” without shedding tears, must indeed have a heart of stone.

Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
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John Brown Character Timeline in Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

The timeline below shows where the character John Brown appears in Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 10
Collective Progress and Individual Achievement Theme Icon
Music, Emotion, and American Culture Theme Icon
Secrecy, Purity, and Origins Theme Icon
...congregated together for a week to celebrate and worship. This meeting centered on the preacher John Brown and the chorus leader “Singing Johnson,” whose presence reminded the narrator of religion’s foundational role... (full context)
Music, Emotion, and American Culture Theme Icon
Secrecy, Purity, and Origins Theme Icon
...an uncanny ability to know what hymn to sing when, even at important moments during John Brown ’s sermons. Listening to the songs, the narrator contemplated where they came from, who managed... (full context)