A Phi Beta Kappa Graduate Of New York University, Countee Cullen Went On To Receive His Master's From Harvard, In 1926. While At Harvard, He Published Color, His First Volume Of Poetry. His Other Works Include Copper Sun (1926), The Ballad Of The Brown Girl (1926) And My Lives And How I Lost Them (1942) He Was Considered By Many, The Most Representative And Promising Of The Young Black Poets To Emerge During The Harlem Renaissance.
Cullen Garnered Several Honors Throughout The 1920's. In 1928 He Married Nina Yolande Du Bois, The daughter of W. E. B. Du Bois. The Marriage Was A Failure. Two Months After The Wedding, Cullen And His Best Man Left For Europe Without Yolande. He Formalized Their Divorce From Paris In 1930.
His Works Generally Reflected The Social And Political Mood Of The Times. He Rejected The Label "Negro/Black Poet." And While He Did Not Ignore Racial And African Heritage Themes, He Treated Them In An Urbane And Romantic Way.
By The 1930's Cullen's Career Was In Decline. To Support Himself, He Turned To Teaching French And English At Frederick Douglass Junior High School, In 1934, Where James Baldwin, Was One Of His Pupils. He Continued Writing And Produced In Addition To His Poetry, The Very Engaging And Clever Book Of Children's Literature, "Co-Authored" With His Cat, Christopher--The Lost Zoo (1940).
The Following Poem Is A Personal Favorite Of Mine. In A Few Short Lines, Cullen Exposes The Trauma, Pain And Venom Of Bigotry -- Very Powerful.
By Countee Cullen
Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.
Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, "Nigger."
I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That's all that I remember.
"In Order For Black History To Live, We Must Continue To Breathe Life Into It." -- Hubert Gaddy, Jr.