Urban Odyssey: Sterling Brown

African-American poet Sterling Brown is best known for writing poetry distinctly rooted in folklore and authentic black dialect. His works, including Southern Road (1932), have been widely praised for their authenticity and phonetic spelling.


Born on May 1, 1901, in Washington, D.C., African-American poet Sterling Brown is best known for his writing rooted in folklore and authentic black dialect. After graduating from Williams College in 1922 and receiving a master’s degree from Harvard University in 1923, Brown began working as a professor. Over the next few years, he began collecting folk songs and stories, and then published Southern Road in 1932. Later works includeNegro Poetry and Drama (1937), The Negro in American Fiction (1937) andThe Negro Caravan (1941). Brown died in Takoma Park, Maryland, on January 13, 1989.


James Weldon Johnson: American History

Born on June 17, 1871, in Jacksonville, Florida, James Weldon Johnson was a civil rights activist, writer, composer, politician, educator and lawyer, as well as one of the leading figures in the creation and development of the Harlem Renaissance. After graduating from Atlanta University, Johnson worked as a principal in a grammar school, founded a newspaper, The Daily American, and became the first African American to pass the Florida Bar. His published works include The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912) and God’s Trombones (1927). Johnson died on June 26, 1938, in Wiscasset, Maine.


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