This son of a Georgia farmer and the daughter of the first African-American governor in the United States easily passed for white in spite of his black heritage, and lived in both black and white society before he was 18. When he moved to New Rochelle in 1906, he lived in a white neighborhood and attended a white school. Three years later in Washington D.C. he attended an all-black high school.
It was while living in Sparta, Georgia as an African-American that Toomer conceived the idea of Cane, a work some compare to Native Son or Invisible Man in its impact on contemporary African-American culture.
Toomer went on to become a Quaker, although he continued to write. His death in 1967 came after a long illness.