illustration ©2011 John Jennings



Claude McKay (1889 – 1948) was born in Jamaica, and came to the U.S. in 1912 to attend Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute. He objected to the “machinelike existence” at Tuskegee and the racism he encountered in South Carolina, and transferred to Kansas State University. In 1914, after reading W.E.B. Du Bois’ Souls of Black Folk, he moved to New York City, where he became one of the most important writers of the Harlem Renasissance. McKay was already an established writer in Jamaica, with his first book of poems, Songs of Jamaica (1912). Many of his numerous poems written in the U.S. were reactions to the racism he encountered in this country. Home to Harlem (1928), the first of McKay’s three novels, won the Harmon Gold Award for Literature, but caused his estrangement from Du Bois, who objected to the book’s frank depictions of sexuality and nightlife in Harlem.

African-American Classics:
Graphic Classics Volume 22

144 pages, color, $15