Claude McKay, an outstanding author
*This date marks the birthday of Claude McKay in 1890. He was an African American writer, born in Jamaica.
He was educated by his older brother, who owned a library of English novels, poetry, and scientific texts. At twenty, McKay published a book of verse called "Songs of Jamaica," recording his impressions of Black life in Jamaica in dialect. In 1912, he traveled to the United States to attend Tuskegee Institute. He remained there only a few months, leaving to study agriculture at Kansas State University.
After 1914 several of his poems were published in various American periodicals; they were primarily lyric works decrying injustice. After World War I, McKay lived in England & France and visited the Soviet Union. He also served as an editor of and contributor to the left-wing periodicals The Liberator and The Masses. McKay's first novel, Home to Harlem was a popular success.
Other novels by McKay include Banjo and Banana Bottom. McKay's poetry and prose were notable and he also wrote an autobiography, A Long Way from Home and a sociological study, Harlem: Negro Metropolis. In 1942 he converted to Roman Catholicism and renounced his former left wing philosophy.
McKay was one of the prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance in Black literature of the 1920s, he was known for his poems and novels of Black life, first in Jamaica and later in the United States.
He died in 1948.
The African American Atlas
Black History & Culture an Illustrated Reference
by Molefi K. Asanta and Mark T. Mattson
Macmillam USA, Simon & Schuster, New York
Today in American History