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Claude McKay

Claude McKay

Overview
Claude McKay was a Jamaican-American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 writer
Writer
A writer is a person who produces literature, such as novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, poetry, or other literary art. Skilled writers are able to use language to portray ideas and images....

 and poet
Poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

. He was a seminal figure in the Harlem Renaissance
Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned the 1920s and 1930s. At the time, it was known as the "New Negro Movement", named after the 1925 anthology by Alain Locke...

 and wrote three novels: Home to Harlem (1928), a best-seller which won the Harmon Gold Award
William E. Harmon Foundation award for distinguished achievement among Negroes
The William E. Harmon Foundation award for Distinguished Achievement among Negroes commonly referred to as the "Harmon award" or "Harmon foundation award", was a philanthropic and cultural award created in 1926 by William E. Harmon and administered by the Harmon Foundation...

 for Literature, Banjo (1929), and Banana Bottom (1933). McKay also authored a collection of short stories, Gingertown (1932), and two autobiographical books, A Long Way from Home (1937) and Harlem: Negro Metropolis (1940).
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Encyclopedia
Claude McKay was a Jamaican-American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 writer
Writer
A writer is a person who produces literature, such as novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, poetry, or other literary art. Skilled writers are able to use language to portray ideas and images....

 and poet
Poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

. He was a seminal figure in the Harlem Renaissance
Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned the 1920s and 1930s. At the time, it was known as the "New Negro Movement", named after the 1925 anthology by Alain Locke...

 and wrote three novels: Home to Harlem (1928), a best-seller which won the Harmon Gold Award
William E. Harmon Foundation award for distinguished achievement among Negroes
The William E. Harmon Foundation award for Distinguished Achievement among Negroes commonly referred to as the "Harmon award" or "Harmon foundation award", was a philanthropic and cultural award created in 1926 by William E. Harmon and administered by the Harmon Foundation...

 for Literature, Banjo (1929), and Banana Bottom (1933). McKay also authored a collection of short stories, Gingertown (1932), and two autobiographical books, A Long Way from Home (1937) and Harlem: Negro Metropolis (1940). His book of poetry, Harlem Shadows (1922) was among the first books published during the Harlem Renaissance. His book of collected poems, Selected Poems (1953), was published posthumously.

McKay was attracted to communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 in his early life, but he was never a member of the Communist Party
Communist party
A political party described as a Communist party includes those that advocate the application of the social principles of communism through a communist form of government...

.

Early life


Claude McKay was born Festus Claudius McKay in Nairne Castle near James Hill
James Hill
James Hill may refer to:*James Hill , former professional American football tight end*James Hill , British film and television director...

, Clarendon, Jamaica. He was the youngest child of Thomas Francis McKay and Hannah Ann Elizabeth Edwards, well-to-do peasant
Peasant
A peasant is an agricultural worker who generally tend to be poor and homeless-Etymology:The word is derived from 15th century French païsant meaning one from the pays, or countryside, ultimately from the Latin pagus, or outlying administrative district.- Position in society :Peasants typically...

 farmers who had enough property to qualify to vote. Thomas McKay's father was of Ashanti descent, and Claude recounted that his father would share stories of Ashanti customs with him. Claude's mother was of Malagasy
Malagasy people
The Malagasy ethnic group forms nearly the entire population of Madagascar. They are divided into two subgroups: the "Highlander" Merina, Sihanaka and Betsileo of the central plateau around Antananarivo, Alaotra and Fianarantsoa, and the côtiers elsewhere in the country. This division has its...

 ancestry.

At four years old, McKay started basic school at the church he attended. At age seven, he was sent to live with his oldest brother, a school teacher, to be given the best education available. While living with his oldest brother, Uriah Theodore, McKay became an avid reader of classical and British literature, as well as philosophy, science and theology. He started writing poetry at the age of 10.

In 1906, McKay became an apprentice to a carriage and cabinet maker known as Old Brenga. He stayed in his apprenticeship for about two years. During that time, in 1907, McKay met a man named Walter Jekyll who became a mentor and an inspiration for him. He encouraged McKay to concentrate on his writing. Jekyll convinced McKay to write in his native dialect and even later set some of McKay's verses to music. Jekyll helped McKay publish his first book of poems, Songs of Jamaica, in 1912. These were the first poems published in Jamaican Patois (dialect of mainly English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 words and African
Languages of Africa
There are over 2100 and by some counts over 3000 languages spoken natively in Africa in several major language families:*Afro-Asiatic spread throughout the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and parts of the Sahel...

 structure). McKay's next volume, Constab Ballads, came out in the same year and was based on his experience as a police officer in Jamaica.

Career in the United States


McKay left for the U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in 1912 to attend Booker T. Washington
Booker T. Washington
Booker Taliaferro Washington was an American educator, author, orator, and political leader. He was the dominant figure in the African-American community in the United States from 1890 to 1915...

's Tuskegee Institute, but did not become an American citizen until 1940. McKay was shocked by the intense racism
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

 he encountered when he arrived in Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was made the county seat of Charleston County in 1901 when Charleston County was founded. The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location from a location on the west bank of the...

 which inspired him to write more poetry,where many public facilities were segregated
Racial segregation
Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home...

. At Tuskegee, he disliked the "semi-military, machinelike existence there" and quickly left to study at Kansas State University
Kansas State University
Kansas State University, commonly shortened to K-State, is an institution of higher learning located in Manhattan, Kansas, in the United States...

. At Kansas State, he read W. E. B. Du Bois' Souls of Black Folk, which had a major impact on him and stirred his political involvement. But despite superior academic performance, in 1914 McKay decided he did not want to be an agronomist
Agronomist
An agronomist is a scientist who specializes in agronomy, which is the science of utilizing plants for food, fuel, feed, and fiber. An agronomist is an expert in agricultural and allied sciences, with the exception veterinary sciences.Agronomists deal with interactions between plants, soils, and...

 and moved to New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, where he married his childhood sweetheart Eulalie Lewars.
McKay published two poems in 1917 in Seven Arts under the Alias Eli Edwards while working as a waiter on the railways. In 1919 he met Crystal
Crystal Eastman
Crystal Catherine Eastman was a lawyer, antimilitarist, feminist, socialist, and journalist. She is best remembered as a leader in the fight for women's right to vote, as a co-editor of the radical arts and politics magazine The Liberator, and as a co-founder of the Women's International League...

 and Max Eastman
Max Eastman
Max Forrester Eastman was an American writer on literature, philosophy and society, a poet, and a prominent political activist. For many years, Eastman was a supporter of socialism, a leading patron of the Harlem Renaissance and an activist for a number of liberal and radical causes...

, who produced The Liberator (where McKay would serve as Co-Executive Editor until 1922). It was here that he published one of his most famous poems, "If We Must Die", during the "Red Summer", a period of intense racial violence against black people in Anglo-American societies. This was among a page of his poetry which signaled the commencement of his life as a professional writer.

During McKay's time with The Liberator, he may have had affairs with men, including Waldo Frank
Waldo Frank
Waldo Frank was a prolific novelist, historian, literary and social critic. Most well-known for his studies of Spanish and Latin American literature, Frank served as chairman of the First Americans Writers Congress and became the first president of the League of American Writers.-Biography:Frank...

 and Edward Arlington Robinson. Later in Paris he may have had a sexual relationship with Canadian writer John Glassco
John Glassco
John Glassco was a Canadian poet, memoirist and novelist. "Glassco will be remembered for his brilliant autobiography, his elegant, classical poems, and for his translations." He is also remembered by some for his pornography.-Life:Born in Montreal to a well-off merchant family, John Glassco was...

, but details on any of this are few.

McKay became involved with a group of black radicals
Far left
Far left, also known as the revolutionary left, radical left and extreme left are terms which refer to the highest degree of leftist positions among left-wing politics...

 who were unhappy both with Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey
Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr., ONH was a Jamaican publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator who was a staunch proponent of the Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism movements, to which end he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League...

's nationalism
Black nationalism
Black nationalism advocates a racial definition of indigenous national identity, as opposed to multiculturalism. There are different indigenous nationalist philosophies but the principles of all African nationalist ideologies are unity, and self-determination or independence from European society...

 and the middle class
Middle class
The middle class is any class of people in the middle of a societal hierarchy. In Weberian socio-economic terms, the middle class is the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the working class and upper class....

 reformist NAACP. These included other Caribbean writers such as Cyril Briggs
Cyril Briggs
Cyril Valentine Briggs was an African Caribbean and African-American writer and communist political activist born in the West Indies. He was influenced by political ideas which emerged during and after the First World War.Briggs was born in 1888 in Nevis, a Caribbean island of the West Indies...

, Richard B. Moore
Richard B. Moore
Richard Benjamin Moore was an African Caribbean civil rights activist and prominent communist.-Early years:RIchard Benjamin Moore was a Barbadian writer born on August 9, 1893 in Barbados, West Indies to Richard Henry Moore and Josephine Thorne Moore. In Barbados, the Richard Henry and Josephine...

 and Wilfrid Domingo. They fought for black self-determination within the context of socialist
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 revolution. Together they founded the semi-secret revolutionary organization, the African Blood Brotherhood
African Blood Brotherhood
The African Blood Brotherhood for African Liberation and Redemption was a radical U.S. black liberation organization established in 1919 in New York City by journalist Cyril Briggs. The group was established as a propaganda organization built on the model of the secret society...

. Hubert Harrison
Hubert Harrison
Hubert Henry Harrison was a West Indian-American writer, orator, educator, critic, and radical socialist political activist based in Harlem, New York. He was described by activist A. Philip Randolph as “the father of Harlem radicalism” and by the historian Joel Augustus Rogers as “the foremost...

 had asked McKay to write for Garvey's Negro World
Negro World
Negro World was a weekly newspaper, established in January 1918 in New York City, which served as the voice of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, an organization founded by Marcus Garvey in 1914...

, but only a few copies of the paper have survived from this period, none of which contain any articles by McKay. McKay soon left for London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

.

McKay in London


McKay arrived in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 in autumn 1919.He used to frequent a soldier's club in Drury Lane
Drury Lane
Drury Lane is a street on the eastern boundary of the Covent Garden area of London, running between Aldwych and High Holborn. The northern part is in the borough of Camden and the southern part in the City of Westminster....

 and the International Socialist Club in Shoreditch
Shoreditch
Shoreditch is an area of London within the London Borough of Hackney in England. It is a built-up part of the inner city immediately to the north of the City of London, located east-northeast of Charing Cross.-Etymology:...

. A militant atheist, he also joined the Rationalist Press Association. It was during this period that McKay's commitment to socialism deepened and he read Marx assiduously. At the International Socialist Club, McKay met Shapurji Saklatvala
Shapurji Saklatvala
Shapurji Saklatvala was a British politician of Indian Parsi heritage. He was the third Indian Member of Parliament in the Parliament of the United Kingdom after fellow Parsis Dadabhai Naoroji and Mancherjee Bhownagree....

, A. J. Cook
A. J. Cook (trade unionist)
Arthur James Cook , known as A. J. Cook, was a British coal miner and trade union leader. He is remembered as one of the United Kingdom's best known miners’ leaders and a key component of the National Minority Movement around the General Strike of 1926.-Early years:A.J...

, Guy Aldred
Guy Aldred
Guy Alfred Aldred - often Guy A. Aldred - was a British anarchist communist and a prominent member of the Anti-Parliamentary Communist Federation...

, Jack Tanner
Jack Tanner (trade unionist)
John Shirley Frederick Tanner , known as Jack Tanner, was a British trade unionist.Born in Whitstable, Tanner grew up in London and became a fitter and turner at the age of 14...

, Arthur McManus, William Gallacher, Sylvia Pankhurst
Sylvia Pankhurst
Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst was an English campaigner for the suffragist movement in the United Kingdom. She was for a time a prominent left communist who then devoted herself to the cause of anti-fascism.-Early life:...

 and George Lansbury
George Lansbury
George Lansbury was a British politician, socialist, Christian pacifist and newspaper editor. He was a Member of Parliament from 1910 to 1912 and from 1922 to 1940, and leader of the Labour Party from 1932 to 1935....

. He was soon invited to write for the Workers' Dreadnought
Workers' Dreadnought
Workers' Dreadnought was a newspaper published by variously-named political parties led by Sylvia Pankhurst.Provisionally titled Workers' Mate, the newspaper first appeared on International Women's Day, March 8, 1914, as Women's Dreadnought, with a circulation of 30,000.The paper was started by...

.

In 1920, the Daily Herald, a socialist paper published by George Lansbury, included a racist
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

 article written by E. D. Morel
E. D. Morel
Edmund Dene Morel, originally Georges Eduard Pierre Achille Morel de Ville was a British journalist, author and socialist politician. In collaboration with Roger Casement, the Congo Reform Association and others, Morel, in newspapers such as his West African Mail, led a campaign against slavery...

. Entitled "Black Scourge in Europe: Sexual Horror Let Loose by France on the Rhine", it insinuated gross hypersexuality on black people
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

 in general, but Lansbury refused to print McKay's response. This response then appeared in Workers' Dreadnought. This started his regular involvement with Workers' Dreadnought and the Workers' Socialist Federation, a Council Communist group active in the East End
East End of London
The East End of London, also known simply as the East End, is the area of London, England, United Kingdom, east of the medieval walled City of London and north of the River Thames. Although not defined by universally accepted formal boundaries, the River Lea can be considered another boundary...

 and which had a majority of women involved in it at all levels of the organization. He became a paid journalist for the paper; some people claim he was the first black journalist in Britain. He attended the Communist Unity Conference which established the Communist Party of Great Britain
Communist Party of Great Britain
The Communist Party of Great Britain was the largest communist party in Great Britain, although it never became a mass party like those in France and Italy. It existed from 1920 to 1991.-Formation:...

. At this time he also had some of his poetry published in the Cambridge Magazine, edited by C. K. Ogden.

When Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested under the Defence of the Realm Act for publishing articles "calculated and likely to cause sedition
Sedition
In law, sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority to tend toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent to lawful authority. Sedition may include any...

 amongst His Majesty's forces, in the Navy, and among the civilian population," McKay had his rooms searched. He is likely to have been the author of "The Yellow peril and the Dockers" attributed to Leon Lopez
Leon Lopez
-Biography:Leon Lopez is an English actor, singer-songwriter and occasional model, best known for playing the role of "Jerome Johnson" in the Channel 4 soap opera Brookside from 1998 to 2002. He is a former student of the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, established by Sir Paul McCartney...

, which was one of the articles cited by the government in its case against the Workers' Dreadnought.

From November 1922 to June 1923, he visited the Soviet Union and attended the fourth congress of the Communist International in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

. There, he met many leading Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

s including Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky , born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army....

, Nikolai Bukharin
Nikolai Bukharin
Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin , was a Russian Marxist, Bolshevik revolutionary, and Soviet politician. He was a member of the Politburo and Central Committee , chairman of the Communist International , and the editor in chief of Pravda , the journal Bolshevik , Izvestia , and the Great Soviet...

 and Karl Radek
Karl Radek
Karl Bernhardovic Radek was a socialist active in the Polish and German movements before World War I and an international Communist leader after the Russian Revolution....

. He wrote the manuscripts for a book of essays called Negroes in America and three stories published as Lynching in America, both of which appeared first in Russian and were re-translated into English. McKay's original English manuscripts have been lost.

Home to Harlem and Other Works


In 1928, McKay published his most famous novel, Home to Harlem, which won the Harmon Gold Award for Literature. The novel, which depicted street life in Harlem, would have a major impact on black intellectuals in the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

, West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

, and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

.

McKay's novel gained a substantial readership, especially with people who wanted to know more about the intense, and sometimes shocking, details of Harlem
Harlem
Harlem is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, which since the 1920s has been a major African-American residential, cultural and business center. Originally a Dutch village, formally organized in 1658, it is named after the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands...

 nightlife. His novel was an attempt to capture the energetic and intense spirit of the "uprooted black vagabonds
Vagabond (person)
A vagabond is a drifter and an itinerant wanderer who roams wherever they please, following the whim of the moment. Vagabonds may lack residence, a job, and even citizenship....

." Home to Harlem was a work in which McKay looked among the common people for a distinctive black identity.

Despite this, the book drew fire from one of McKay's heroes, W. E. B. Du Bois. To Du Bois, the novel's frank depictions of sexuality and the nightlife in Harlem only appealed to the "prurient demand[s]" of white readers and publishers looking for portrayals of black "licentiousness." As Du Bois said, "Home to Harlem ... for the most part nauseates me, and after the dirtier parts of its filth I feel distinctly like taking a bath." Modern critics now dismiss this criticism from Du Bois, who was more concerned with using art as propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 in the struggle for African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 political liberation than in the value of art to showcase the truth about the lives of black people.

McKay's other novels were Banjo (1930), and Banana Bottom (1933). Banjo was noted in part for its portrayal of how the French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

 treated black colonists, as the novel centers on black seamen in Marseilles. Césaire stated that in Banjo, blacks were described truthfully and without "inhibition or prejudice
Prejudice
Prejudice is making a judgment or assumption about someone or something before having enough knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy, or "judging a book by its cover"...

". Banana Bottom was McKay's third novel. The book is said to follow a principal theme of a black individual in search of establishing a cultural identity in a white society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

. The book discusses underlying racial and cultural tensions.

McKay also authored a collection of short stories, Gingertown (1932), and two autobiographical books, A Long Way from Home (1937) and Harlem: Negro Metropolis (1940). His book of collected poems, Selected Poems (1953), and his second autobiography, My Green Hills of Jamaica (1979), were published posthumously.

Becoming disillusioned with communism, McKay embraced the social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, to which he converted in 1944. He died from a heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

 in Chicago at the age of 59.

Legacy


In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante
Molefi Kete Asante
Molefi Kete Asante is an African-American scholar, historian, and philosopher. He is a leading figure in the fields of African American studies, African Studies and Communication Studies...

 listed Claude McKay on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans
100 Greatest African Americans
100 Greatest African Americans is a biographical dictionary of the one hundred historically greatest African Americans , as assessed by Molefi Kete Asante in 2002.-Criteria:...

. He is regarded as the "foremost left-wing black intellectual of his age" and workheavily influenced a generation of black authors including James Baldwin
James Baldwin (writer)
James Arthur Baldwin was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic.Baldwin's essays, for instance "Notes of a Native Son" , explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th century America,...

 and Richard Wright
Richard Wright (author)
Richard Nathaniel Wright was an African-American author of sometimes controversial novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction. Much of his literature concerns racial themes, especially those involving the plight of African-Americans during the late 19th to mid 20th centuries...

.

Awards

  • Jamaican Institute of Arts and Sciences, gold medal, 1912, for two volumes of poetry, Songs of Jamaica and Constab Ballads;
  • Harmon Foundation Award for distinguished literary achievement, NAACP, 1929, for Harlem Shadows and Home to Harlem;
  • James Weldon Johnson Literary Guild Award, 1937.

External Links