Born on Feburay 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. His parents separated when he was a kid and was raised by his grandma until she died. After his grandma died he went to live with his mom and moved many times.
He attend Central High School in Lincoln, IL. He was the class poet and ran on the track team. He went to Columbia Universty for one year then dropped out. Went to Lincoln Universty and received a B.S. degree.
In June, 1920 after graduwaiting high school he moved to Mexico to live with his father. He also worked as a seaman traveling to Africa and Europe.
His home in Harlem, NY was made into a landmark in 1981 and was added to the National Register of Places in 1992. Volumes of his work can be published and translated for the whole world to see.
He died on May, 22, 1967 due to complations of prostate cancer. His ashes were interired beneath the entrance of the Author Schemburg Center for research in black culture in Harlem.
His first book of poetry, The Weary Blues was published in 1926. He also recived a college scholarship to Lincoln Universty.