Marcus Bruce Christian, the son of Emanual Banks Christian and Rebecca Harris, was born on March 8, 1900, in Mechanicsville (now incorporated into Houma), Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. The son and grandson of teachers, he was educated at Houma Academy and an evening public school in New Orleans. Orphaned at thirteen, Christian moved to New Orleans in 1919 and resided there until his death on November 21, 1976.
From 1926 until 1935, Christian owned and operated a dry-cleaning business. In 1936 he joined the Federal Writers’ Project and was assigned to the “Colored Project” at Dillard University, eventually becoming its director and holding that post until the project’s demise in 1943. Under Christian’s authority, the Dillard project contributed information about black writers to the New Orleans City Guide (1938) and Louisiana: A Guide to the State (1941), both published by the Federal Writers’ Project.
Upon the termination of the Writers’ Project, Christian served as director of the Dillard University War Information Center. Also in 1943, he received a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship to pursue historical research on African Americans in Louisiana. A year later, he was appointed assistant librarian at Dillard. During this period he also operated his own printing company. From 1972 until his death in 1976, Christian held the post of special instructor in English and history at the University of New Orleans.
Widely acclaimed as poet laureate of the New Orleans African American community, Christian composed some two thousand poems over the course of his life. His first book of poetry was published in 1922, and he contributed poetic, literary, and historical works to the Afro-American, the Pittsburgh Courier, Opportunity, Crisis, the Dillard Arts Quarterly, the New Orleans States-Item, the New York Herald-Tribune, Phylon, and the Louisiana Weekly. He also served as poetry and contributing editor of the Louisiana Weekly. An active historian, Christian did extensive research on Louisiana and assisted in the writing of “A Black History of Louisiana,” an unpublished manuscript produced by the Federal Writers’ Project. His published works include Negro Ironworkers of Louisiana, 1718-1900; Battle of New Orleans; From the Deep South; and Common People’s Manifesto of World War II.