- NAME: Claude McKay
- OCCUPATION: Journalist, Author, Poet
- BIRTH DATE: September 15, 1890
- DEATH DATE: May 22, 1948
- Did You Know?: A researcher discovered a complete, unpublished Claude McKay novel, Amiable with Big Teeth, at Columbia University in 2012.
- EDUCATION: Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), Kansas State College
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Sunny Ville, Clarendon Parish, Jamaica
- PLACE OF DEATH: Chicago, Illinois
- Full Name: Festus Claudius McKay
- AKA: Eli Edwards
- AKA: Claude McKay
Best Known For
Claude McKay was a Jamaican poet best known for his novels and poems, including "If We Must Die," which contributed to the Harlem Renaissance.
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He embraced Catholicism, retreating from Communism entirely, and officially became an American citizen in 1940. His experiences working with Catholic relief organizations in New York inspired a new essay collection, Harlem: Negro Metropolis, which offers observations and analysis of the African-American community in Harlem at the time. McKay died of a heart attack in Chicago, Illinois, on May 22, 1948.
In 2012, a researcher discovered an unpublished Claude McKay novel,
Amiable with Big Teeth, in the Columbia University archives.
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They are the famous African-American writers who have fearlessly examined cultural stigmas, provided intimate life details, presented new ideas and created remarkable fiction through literary works. For their prophetic genius, these men and women have received Pulitzer Prizes, NAACP awards and even Nobel Prizes, among other honors. Our list of prominent African-American authors includes Toni Morrison, who has detailed the lives of black characters who struggle with identity amidst racism and hostility; Langston Hughes, a founder of the Harlem Renaissance; and Maya Angelou, who has eloquently chronicled various eras of her life through her autobiographies.
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During the early 20th century, African-American poets, musicians, actors, artists and intellectuals moved to Harlem in New York City and brought new ideas that shifted the culture forever. From approximately 1918 to the mid 1930s, talent began to overflow within this newfound culture of the black community in Harlem, as prominent figures—Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday, to name a few—pushed art to its limit as a form of expression and representation. These are some of the famous African Americans who shaped the influential movement known as the Harlem Renaissance.
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