Day 9 of 28 – Black History Month – Claude McKay

By: Ebonye Gussine Wilkins


I wanted to share with you a little about Claude McKay. He was a Jamaican-American writer who lived from 1889-1948. I admire his work because his writing was greatly influenced by the events around him. He had come to the United States to study and encountered racism and segregation unlike anything he had ever experienced. He chose to write about it. From Harlem to London to Moscow, he chose to write about the things that mattered most to his heart. He wrote with such conviction that one can’t help but be drawn into his work.

While he wrote for periodicals, he also wrote fiction, and poetry. One of his most famous poems is: “If We Must Die.”

If We Must Die

by Claude McKay
If we must die—let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die—oh, let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
Oh, Kinsmen!  We must meet the common foe;
Though far outnumbered, let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

(reposted from

When you are writing, what are you passionate about?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *