Opportunity was most influential in African American literary circles for its literary contests, which ran between 1924-1927, and helped to strengthen the reputations of important writers like Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Sterling Brown, Arna Bontemps, and Countee Cullen. The contests were also accompanied by award dinners, which were often quite glamorous, and featured many writers, publishers, and patrons.
In 1928, Charles Johnson was appointed as President of Fisk University, a Historically Black university. At that time, the editorship shifted, as did the priorities of the journal. After 1928, the magazine was more narrowly focused on sociology and race, and the literary emphasis diminished.