Modernist poet, author, and educator whose works include Libretto for the Republic of Liberia and Dark Symphony. A Gallery of Harlem Portraits, a posthumous collection of his poems, was published in 1979.
He was one of four children born to an African-American Methodist minister. He studied at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
His Master's thesis at Columbia University dealt with important writers of the Harlem Renaissance.
He married Ruth Southall, with whom he subsequently had four children.
He is portrayed by actor Denzel Washington in the 2007 film The Great Debaters.