Author, music critic, and portrait photographer who was one of the main promoters of the Harlem Renaissance. He was also the literary executor of
He studied at the University of Chicago and went on to work as a music critic for The New York Times.
He served as a patron of African-American, Harlem-based artists of the 1920s and was also a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
He was born into an affluent and politically liberal family in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He was married twice, although he was likely homosexual or bisexual.
He photographed the African-American blues singer Bessie Smith and many of her contemporaries.