Marcus B. Christian, Bayou poet and teacher


Marcus B. Christian
Date: 
Thu, 1900-03-08

*Marcus B. Christian was born on this date in 1900. He was an African American poet, and educator.

From Mechanicsville (Houma), LA, he was the son of Emanuel and Rebbecca (Harris) Christian, Sr. Marcus Bruce Christian was educated at Houma Academy in New Orleans, from 1906-1913. He and his family moved to New Orleans in 1919. Christian also started Bluebird Cleaners in 1926. From 1932-1976, his writing career began and flourished with the Louisiana Weekly, New Orleans, as poetry editor and as a special feature writer.

During this time he received a complimentary letter from Langston Hughes, and one of his more prolific writings, “McDonogh Day in New Orleans” was reprinted in the New York Herald Tribune two years later on June 17, 1934. Christian was appointed to Federal Writers’ Project through Dillard University, New Orleans, on April 6, 1936. Many other art forms were inspired by his writing. Elmer Anderson of Opportunity magazine sent the Christian piece “Men on Horseback” to W.C. Handy to be put to music on August 5, 1936.

He received letter of encouragement from first lady Eleanor Roosevelt on April 2, 1937, and author Sterling Brown requested scholarly help from Christian, for his “The Portrait of the Negro as American” in September 1937. With Federal Writers’ Project, he was appointed unit supervisor in 1939. During this time, he became an authority on the folklore and history of the Blacks in Louisiana; collecting material during the depression. Christian was employed by Dillard University to organize and supervise War Information Center in 1943, that same year he married Ruth Morand of New Orleans.

Also in 1943, he received a Rosenwald Fellow to continue work on “The History of the Negro in Louisiana” and from 1944-1950, he was assistant librarian at Dillard University. Christian was a member of the Les Cenelles Society of Arts and Letters, and an Arthur Spingarn Crisis Outstanding Book Award recipient in 1948, for The Common People’s Manifesto. He also participated in the Deep South Human Relations Seminar at Xavier University in April 1963.

In 1965, he received the Sesquicentennial Commission of the Battle of New Orleans bronze medal. Later in his life, Christian was a Writer-in-residence, instructor of Louisiana Negro History and director of poetry workshop from 1969-1976. In 1976, Marcus B. Christian collapsed in a classroom and died days later at Charity Hospital.

Reference:
Chicken Bones: A Journal,
2536 Druid Hill Avenue,
Baltimore, MD 21217

To be a Writer

Person / name: 

Christian, Marcus B.