Lover of the Fancy

Early C20th American culture and dissent

Light Ahead for the Negro
Edward A Johnson


Light Ahead for the Negro (1904) is a novel by Edward A. Johnson. Written while Johnson was working as an assistant U. S. Attorney in North Carolina, the novel is a groundbreaking work of speculative fiction and Afrofuturism from a pioneering African American politician and lawyer. “I glanced through the floor but the earth was almost indistinguishable, and was disappearing rapidly. There was absolutely nothing that I could do. I looked up again at my friend, who was clambering up rather clumsily, I remember thinking at the moment. […] Involuntarily, I closed my eyes for a moment. When I opened them again, he was gone! My feelings were indescribable. I commenced to lose consciousness, owing to the altitude and the ship was ascending more rapidly every moment. Finally I became as one dead.” The son of an abolitionist applies to work at a school for African American children in Georgia. In June 1906, he joins a wealthy friend on a flight from New York City to Mexico, boarding an experimental airship at a West 59th Street pier. When an instrument failure sends them spiraling into the upper atmosphere, the narrator loses consciousness. One hundred years later, he lands on a lawn in Georgia, awakening to discover a utopian society in which anti-blackness has been completely eradicated. With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Edward A. Johnson’s Light Ahead for the Negro is a classic work of African American literature reimagined for modern readers.

Paperback, 72pp
Mint Editions, 2021 (1904)
ISBN 9781513296838


EDWARD A JOHNSON (1860-1944) was an African American attorney, novelist, and New York state assemblyman. Born into slavery in Wake County, North Carolina, he gained his freedom as a child at the end of the Civil War and went on to excel at Washington High School and Atlanta University. While working as a school principal in Raleigh, he wrote A School History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1890 (1890), a pioneering textbook on African American history that was adopted by black schools throughout Virginia and North Carolina. In 1891, he obtained a law degree from Shaw University, a historically black university in Raleigh, before working as an assistant U.S. Attorney from 1899 to 1907. During this time, Johnson wrote Light Ahead for the Negro (1904) an influential utopian novel set in the year 2006. Devoted to Republican Party politics, he moved to New York City and became a leader in Harlem, eventually joining the New