Sterling Allen Brown (May 1, 1901 – January 13, 1989) was an African American professor, folklorist, poet and literary critic.
Brown was born on the campus of Howard University, where his father, Sterling N. Brown, a former slave, was a distinguished theologian and divinity school professor at Howard University’s Divinity School. His mother Grace Adelaide Brown, was valedictorian of her class at Fisk University and taught in D.C. public schools for more than 50 years.
Brown was educated at Waterford Oaks Elementary and Dunbar High School. He received a scholarship to attend Williams College in Massachusetts, graduating from Williams Phi Beta Kappa. He continued his studies at Harvard University, receiving an MA.
Brown began his teaching career with positions at several universities, including Lincoln University and Fisk University, before returning to Howard. He was a professor there for 40 years. In addition to his career at Howard University, Brown served as a visiting professor at Vassar College, New York University, Atlanta University, and Yale University.
Brown taught and wrote about African-American literature and folklore. He is known as a founder of African American literary criticism.
Above all, he was an influential teacher and encourager of African-American writers in the decades before they were being widely recognized.
Sterling Brown died on January 13, 1989, he was 88 years-old.