African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Poems Published in "Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life," 1923-1928

Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life was active in its first instance between 1923-1941. It was published by the National Urban League, under the editorship initially of Charles S. Johnson. 

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. Countee Cullen was closey involved as a literary editor during these years, and regularly published columns reviewing other poets' work. A fair amount of poetry white poets who were white was also published in these years.

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. 

Here, we have been in the process of digitizing the poems published in the 1920s in Opportunity based on facsimile copies available at; those are collected below. We are also developing an Index of poems published in Opportunity during these years; that Index can be found here.


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