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September 15, 1889
May 22, 1948
Writer, poet, journalist
Harmon Gold Award
September 15, 1890 – May 22, 1948
Festus Claudius "Claude" McKay was a Jamaican-American writer and poet. He was a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance.
Songs of Jamaica (1912); "If We Must Die" (1919); Harlem Shadows (1922); Home to Harlem (1928); A Long Way from Home (1937)
In most of his poems, McKay portrays the African American as the outsider of western society and its politics, laws, and overall state of living. His poetry possesses a community of themes and subject matters that best express the social, economic, and political situations of the Blacks in America.
In addition to giving a voice to black immigrants, McKay was one of the first African-American poets of the Harlem Renaissance. As such, he influenced later poets, including Langston Hughes. He paved the way for black poets to discuss the conditions and racism that they faced in their poems.
McKay believed that the Communists in the US had other things on their agenda, which did not include African Americans. Furthermore, he thought that they were using the Negro race to fight their battles. McKay's political and social views were made clear through his literary works. In his 1929 work, Banjo: a Story Without a Plot, McKay included poignant commentary on the Western prioritization of business over racial justice through the character Ray.
“If a man is not faithful to his own individuality, he cannot be loyal to anything.”
“I know the dark delight of being strange, The penalty of difference in the crowd, The loneliness of wisdom among fools...”
“The Europeans fight to exterminate us and call it civilizing us.”
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