An American poet and writer of the twentieth-century African-American literary movement in Chicago, she is most known for works such as Jubilee (a 1966 novel) and For My People (a 1942 poem).
She worked for the Federal Writers' Project under the Works Progress Administration.
She set many of her works in the Civil War-era American South.
She was raised in Birmingham, Alabama and New Orleans, Louisiana. She later had four children with Firnist Alexander.
She and Richard Wright were both members of the South Side Writers Group.