In the early part of the twentieth century, Harlem was a hotbed of intellectual, artistic, literary, and political blossoming for Black people.
McKay's poetry could be called protest poetry as he attacked social issues head on. His poem, "The Lynching," is a prime example.
Other poems, though, deal with less weighty topics. Here's a portion of McKay's "The Snow Fairy":
Throughout the afternoon I watched them there,
Snow-fairies falling, falling from the sky,
Whirling fantastic in the misty air,
Contending fierce for space supremacy.
And they flew down a mightier force at night,
As though in heaven there was revolt and riot,
And they, frail things had taken panic flight
Down to the calm earth seeking peace and quiet.
To read the complete poem, click here.