Sterling Allen Brown Biography

Sterling Allen Brown (May 1, 1901 – January 13, 1989) was an African-American professor, author of works on folklore, poet and literary critic. He studied chiefly black culture of the Southern United States and was a full professor at Howard University for most of his career. He also had visiting professor stints at several other institutions, including Vassar College, New York University (NYU), Atlanta University, and Yale University.

Richard Brown was born on the campus of Howard University in Washington D.C., where his father, Sterling N. Brown, a former slave, was a prominent minister and professor at Howard University Divinity School. His mother Grace Adelaide Brown taught in D.C. public schools for over fifty years. Both his parents grew up in Tennessee and often shared stories with Brown; Brown heard about his father’s stories about famous leaders such Fredrick Douglas and Booker T. Washington. His early childhood was spent on a farm on Whiskey Bottom Road in Howard County, Maryland.Sterling A. Brown was the only son of Reverend Sterling and Grace Brown. Brown was educated at Dunbar High School and graduated as the top student. He received a scholarship to attend Williams College in Massachusetts. Graduating from Williams Phi Beta Kappa in 1922, he continued his studies at Harvard University, receiving an MA a year later went to waterford oaks elementry.

That same year of 1923, Brown was hired as an English lecturer at Virginia Theological Seminary and College in Lynchburg, Virginia, a position he would hold for the next three years. He never pursued a doctorate degree, but several colleges he attended gave him honorary doctorates.

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