Jonathan Henderson Brooks

Jonathan Henderson Brooks was born on a farm near Lexington, Mississippi, in 1904. His parents divorced when he was eleven. Brooks’s four siblings—three sisters and a brother—went to live with their father, while Brooks remained with their mother. They subsisted as sharecroppers in Lexington, then Brooks left home to attend Jackson College. While there, he won first prize in a short story contest. In the fall of 1923, he entered Lincoln University in Missouri and graduated from its high school department in 1925. Brooks then enrolled at Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi. While there, he also served part-time as a pastor at a Baptist Church in Kosciusko, Mississippi.

While still an undergraduate student, Brooks contributed several poems to Caroling Dusk (Harper & Brothers, 1927), edited by Countee Cullen. Brooks also published poetry in the Crisis between 1929 and 1934 and in Opportunity between 1927 and 1943. His work was also anthologized in American Negro Poetry (Hill & Wang, 1969); The Poetry of the Negro, 1746–1949 (Doubleday, 1949), edited by Arna Bontemps and Langston Hughes; and The Negro Caravan (Dryden Press, 1941), co-edited by Sterling A. Brown. Brooks published only one book of verse during his lifetime, titled The Resurrection & Other Poems (The Kaleidograph Press, 1948). Brooks is believed to be the most widely published Black poet who lived in Mississippi between the late 1920s and 1945. 

Jonathan Henderson Brooks died in 1945.