Myron O’Higgins

1913 –

Myron O’Higgins was born in Chicago on November 25, 1913. His legal name was Myron Higgins. Raised on Chicago’s South Side, O’Higgins graduated from Hyde Park High School in 1933. He then enrolled at Howard University, where he was a student of Sterling A. Brown’s. O’Higgins earned his BA and MA from Howard, then joined the U.S. Army. While serving, he wrote “Blues for Bessie” (1945), the first known literary work dedicated to the memory of Bessie Smith. After leaving the Army, he became a consultant and researcher at Fisk University, where he also taught creative writing. After being awarded the Lucy Moten and Julius Rosenwald fellowships, he traveled to Mexico and Cuba.

In 1948, O’Higgins published The Lion and the Archer: Poems (Counterpoise), a collection of a dozen poems by Higgins and Robert Hayden. O’Higgins contributed six poems to the second half of the collection, including “Vaticide,” which was dedicated to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi. Between 1949 and 1950, O’Higgins traveled to Paris with the photographer Marvin Smith and the painter Romare Bearden to study abstract art under French painter Fernand Léger. In 1951, O’Higgins sailed to New York from Le Havre, France. Back home, he found work as a registrar at the Smithsonian Museum. In the following years, his poetry was featured in numerous anthologies, including The Poetry of the Negro, 1746–1949 (Doubleday, 1949), edited by Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps, and I Am the Darker Brother: An Anthology of Modern Poems by African Americans (Macmillan, 1968), edited by Arnold Adoff.

O’Higgins was one of the executors of Alain Locke’s will, along with civil rights lawyer Arthur Fauset, who was Jessie Redmon Fauset’s sibling. O’Higgins managed and organized Locke’s vast art collection after the scholar’s death. 

Myron O’Higgins died in May 1978.