Claude McKay

Topics: African American, Black people, Harlem Renaissance Pages: 3 (867 words) Published: March 6, 2014
Claude McKay

Claude McKay was one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century African American literature. When mentioning controversial writers, Claude McKay comes to mind. He was first of many African American writers who became known for speaking his mind through literature during the early 1900's. He used his gift of creativity with words to express his feelings on various issues. Claude McKay is an unforgettable African-American writer who was influenced by his culture as well as other writers, which encouraged him to write poetry, novels, and short stories about politics, human rights, and racism. McKay’s culture, background, and important figures formed him into the inspirational writer we know today. Festus Claudius McKay, known as “Claude,” was the youngest of eleven children. McKay was born on September 15, 1889 on the family farm, Sunny Ville, in central Jamaica to Thomas Francis and Ann Elizabeth McKay (Cagan). Living in central Jamaica, McKay experienced equality in African-Americans. Between 1922 and 1934, McKay lived in Britain, Russia, Germany, France, Spain, and Morocco. During this time period, a new wave of African-American writing, known as the Harlem Renaissance, widely spread across America (Singh). Once he moved to the Unites States at age eighteen, he realized that African-Americans are not treated the same everywhere. By experiencing these different outlooks, McKay was able to expose his views toward his writings. Growing up, McKay met a few inspirational figures that encouraged him to pursue writing. For instance, Edward Jekyll encouraged McKay to explore his native dialect and to write poetry about the world he lives in (Cagan). Hearing the blacks complain about earning a living inspired McKay and that is what his most well known poetry and novels were about, such as Home to Harlem. Another person McKay met was Sinclair Lewis. Lewis gave him “a few cardinal and practical points about the writing of a book of novel” that...
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