Claude Mc Kay And The Harlem Renaissance

1301 words, 6 pages

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Claude McKay and the Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement in 1920s America during which black art, literature, and music experienced renewal and growth, originating in New York City's Harlem district. Racism, discrimination, segregation these were all factors of an American African’s life during the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance was a racial consciousness, a time where people of color were allowed to speak their minds through their literature, art, and music. Claude McKay, a Jamaican immigrant, came on New York at the age of 25 and here he became part of the Harlem Renaissance by joining a group of black radicals. “If We Must Die”, a poem written by McKay in 1919 and... View More »

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This was a group who fought for their culture and race. This directly connects to the poem, which says that they will have their honor. During his childhood, Claude was taught who his ancestors were and how they were brought from Madagascar in chains. They were to be sold on the auction blocks, but they began a death strike,

saying that if they were to be sold to different families they would intentionally kill themselves. McKay’s’ parents told him this because they wanted their son to be proud of where he came from and never forget his culture. For this he and others fought, through literature. By writing this poem, McKay was able to express feelings of not only his, but others as well and speak freely. “If We Must Die” was only one poem written by McKay having a direct connection to the Harlem Renaissance, another was “The Tired Worker”.

“The Tired Worker” is a poem based on the hardships of an African American working in New York City. It talks about the racism by the whites, working conditions, and how painful it is both inside and out. “Be patient, weary body, soon the night; Will wrap thee gently in her sable sheet,” (“The Tired Worker” line 5-6). This shows how they worked all day waiting till night. Their bodies ached, their mind swelled, and exhaustion was hovering over them. However, even with these poor conditions there was nothing they could do about it, nothing they could do to change the conditions. They were desperate for the money and they only way to receive it was to work in these poor and harsh settings. McKay wrote this poem based on the ...

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