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Claude McKay and the Black Mecca. By Timothy Flynn. Claude McKay. D.O.B – September 15 th, 1890 in Clarendon Parish, Sunny Ville, Jamaica.

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claude mckay
Claude McKay
  • D.O.B – September 15th, 1890 in Clarendon Parish, Sunny Ville, Jamaica.
  • Claude McKay began his life begin a farmer and did training with the Jamaican police officers. That ended in 1910. Later, Walter Jekyll, an English scholar, became his mentor and began tutoring McKay. At the beginning of McKay’s writing career he illustrated the life of Peasants’ in the local Creole language. The year of 1912 was when McKay immigrated to America. McKay attended Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
if we must die
“If We Must Die”
  • Claude McKay’s “If we must die” refers to the riots taking place in the United States. The message that is given from this poem is to not go down without a fight.
  • The poem gives off a motivational mood. It gives me the feeling that as long as you fight for what is right you will get what you want in time.
  • 14 lines long, written in Iambic Pentameter. The Rhyme scheme of the poem is ABABC, ending with a rhyming couplet. A Literary device found was Symbolism The dogs were used a symbol for the enemy.
the white house
“The White House”
  • “The White House” is about Claude McKay’s displeasure with the government. The message that is conveyed is that law is unfair to African-Americans.
  • This poem is angry. An emotion probably felt all the time throughout the Harlem Renaissance. McKay acknowledges the amount of will power it takes for Blacks not to act violently on their feelings.
  • 14 lines. ABABC rhyme scheme. Literary devices found in the poem are Personification, Simile, and Metaphor.
the harlem dancer
“The Harlem Dancer”
  • “The Harlem Dancer” as about an African-American working at a strip joint. The message that derives from this poem is that despite the good qualities or characteristics a person may have, they may be stuck with a degrading job not even half their worth.
  • This poem in a way is unfair. The feeling that I get after reading is there is no choice. People of Color during the Harlem Renaissance didn’t have the opportunities that white people had.
  • Literary Devices found in, “The Harlem Dancer” are Imagery, Irony, and Metaphor. Imagery was displayed in Line 2, “And watched her perfect, half-clothed body sway.” The Irony in the poem was when McKay mentioned the Woman’s voice. “Her voice was like the sounded of blended flutes/ Blown by black poets upon a picnic day” (Lines 3-4). A Metaphor was found on lines 7-8 , “ proudly swaying palm/ Grown lovelier for passing through the storm.”
  • Although Claude McKay was a native to Jamaica he spent many of his years in the United States. He was of West Indian descent, nevertheless, through his poetry and novels he examined the black identity in America. McKay made the black experience a priority in his literature, thus making him popular in the Harlem Renaissance and making him a founding member. In addition, McKay compared to Black identity in American to others places around the globe.
work cited
Work Cited
  • Harlem Renaissance Reader
  • "PAL: Harlem Renaissance: A Brief Introduction." PAL: Harlem Renaissance: A Brief Introduction. Web. 7 Jan. 2014. <>.
  • "Claude McKay's Life." Claude McKay's Life. Web. 10 Jan. 2014. <>.