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Claude McKay

Claude McKay
Usage Conditions Apply
Artist
Berenice Abbott, 17 Jul 1898 - 9 Dec 1991
Sitter
Claude McKay, 15 Sep 1889 - 22 May 1948
Date
1926
Type
Photograph
Medium
Gelatin silver print
Dimensions
Image: 16.5 × 12.3 cm (6 1/2 × 4 13/16")
Sheet: 16.5 × 12.9 cm (6 1/2 × 5 1/16")
Mat: 45.7 × 35.6 cm (18 × 14")
Topic
Interior
Costume\Dress Accessory\Scarf
Personal Attribute\Teeth
Claude McKay: Male
Claude McKay: Literature\Writer\Poet
Claude McKay: Communications\Journalist\Editor\Magazine
Claude McKay: Literature\Writer\Novelist
Portrait
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
Copyright
© Berenice Abbott/Getty Images
Object number
NPG.77.266
Exhibition Label
Born Sunny Ville, Jamaica
Melding lyric poetic forms with the bitter realities of racism in Jamaica and the United States seemed an unlikely combination. But poet-novelist Claude McKay (1889–1948) made it work, and Harlem Shadows (1922), his fourth collection of poems, is regarded as a major catalyst in unleashing the cultural ferment of the Harlem Renaissance. Of the poems in Harlem Shadows, the best remembered is “If We Must Die.” First published in the socialist journal the Liberator, it was inspired by the rash of race riots across the United States in 1919, and it closes with these lines:
Like men we’ll face the murderous cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
Those eloquently defiant words made this poem a call to action for emerging civil rights activists in the United States and for international leaders, such as Winston Churchill. Here, the U.S. photographer Berenice Abbott has portrayed the peripatetic McKay in Paris.
Nacido en Sunny Ville, Jamaica
Fundir la poesía lírica con la amarga realidad del racismo en Jamaica y Estados Unidos parecería tarea improbable, pero el poeta y novelista Claude McKay (1889–1948) la efectuó con éxito. Sombras de Harlem (1922), su cuarta colección de poemas, se considera un importante catalizador en la eclosión cultural del Renacimiento de Harlem. Entre esos poemas, el más recordado es “Si hemos de morir”, estrenado en la revista socialista The Liberator e inspirado por los numerosos disturbios raciales de 1919. Termina así:
Como hombres enfrentaremos a la jauría cobarde y asesina,
empujados contra la pared, muriendo, ¡pero luchando!
Estas palabras de elocuencia desafiante convirtieron al poema en un llamado a la acción para el naciente movimiento pro derechos civiles en EE.UU. y para líderes internacionales como Winston Churchill. La fotógrafa estadounidense Berenice Abbott retrató al inquieto viajero McKay en París.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery