An African-American poet and author of the Twentieth Century, he is best remembered for such poetry collections as Southern Road and The Last Ride of Wild Bill. His works of literary criticism include Negro Poetry and The Negro Caravan.
His father, a former slave, taught in the Divinity School at Howard University. Sterling Brown was born on the Howard campus, and he later studied at Williams College and Harvard University.
His poetry was influenced by the African-American musical genres of jazz and the blues.
He married Daisy Turnbull in 1927. He and Turnbull subsequently adopted two children.
Author Toni Morrison was one of his students.