Essay The Harlem Renaissance

1109 Words Apr 25th, 2016 5 Pages
Page 1 As an immigrant from Jamaica, Festus Claudius "Claude" McKay experienced American culture as an outsider. Settling in Harlem, New York he became one of the most influential African American writers of his time, during the Harlem Renaissance. McKay used poems such as "If We Must Die", "America", "Harlem Shadows", and many others to cope with poverty, societal issues such as racism, and to criticize American culture as a whole. In addition to his writing as a poet, his political views also opposed American culture, for he was a supporter of the Communist Revolution in Russia and he was a political activist for equal rights. Claude McKay inspired minorities to protest America as a source of oppression; he ultimately inspired an anti-American movement among minorities and in the entire Harlem Renaissance. A major issue during the Harlem Renaissance, not just in New York, but in many urban places in America populated by minorities, was poverty. As a major theme in McKay 's poetry, poverty was a tool used to keep minorities oppressed, preventing them from gaining any leverage in social class. He writes about how poverty has disabled his community in the poem "Harlem Shadows" when he says, "Ah, stern harsh world, that in the wretched way/ Of poverty, dishonor and disgrace,/ Has pushed the timid little feet of clay,/ The sacred brown feet of my fallen race!" (13-16 McKay). Because his race is forced into poverty, he can never overcome any sort of adversity, for poverty is…

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