An American poet, novelist, and editor, she is regarded as one of the most important female writers of The Harlem Renaissance. During the 1920s and early 1930s, she published four novels: There is Confusion, Plum Bun, The Chinaberry Tree, and Comedy, American Style.
She worked as the editor of The Crisis, a magazine published by the NAACP.
She was a French teacher at New York City's Dewitt Clinton High School for nearly twenty years.
She married Herbert Harris in 1929.
She worked alongside W.E.B. DuBois at The Crisis.