Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Georgia Douglas Johnson descended from African Americans, Native Americans and English settlers. Johnson studied at Oberlin Conservatory and at the Cleveland College of Music.
Johnson settled with her husband in Washington D.C. in 1910 and worked as an assistant principal. In Washington, she established an important D. C. -based "Harlem Renaissance" artist salon: the S Street Salon (at her address 1461 S Street NW).
Johnson published four books of poetry, as well as plays. She worked for the Department of Labor after the death of her husband to support herself and her two sons.