Author Claude McKay was a leading black writer in the 1920’s through the 1940’s. His 1922 collection of poetry called “Harlem Shadows” was said to have introduced the Harlem Renaissance. Prior to that, McKay introduced the protest poem “If We Must Die,” in 1919, which was quoted by Winston Churchill. McKay is believed to be the first black writer recognized for writing a best-selling piece of work.
Claude McKay was born in Jamaica, West Indies in 1889. In 1912, McKay ventured to the United States to study at Tuskegee Institute but left to study agriculture at Kansas State University. As a young man, he was intrigued by Communism, and traveled to Russia and France to gain perspective. After returning to the states, McKay settled in New York in 1934 and concentrated on the Harlem Renaissance.