Countee Cullen was a prominent American poet and was known as the “poster poet” of the 1920 artistic movement called the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance produced the first African American works of literature in the United States. There were many leading figures in the Harlem Renaissance such as James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman and Arna Bontemps.
Cullen was simply an amazing young man who won many poetry contests throughout New York, published two notable volumes of poetry (Color and Copper Sun), received a master’s degree from Harvard University and married the daughter of W.E.B Du Bois, a founder of the NAACP. Cullen grew up in the “heart” of New York since he was an adopted son of Reverend Frederick A. Cullen, minister of the Salem African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Prior to being adopted his mother, Elizabeth Lucas, abandoned him leaving his paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Porter, to raise him until she died in 1918. Do to Cullen’s childhood confusion many are unaware of his place of birth. According to different sources he was born in Louisville, Kentucky, Baltimore, Maryland and New York. Cullen stated that he was born in New York City but no one is sure if he truly meant it.
Reverend Frederick Cullen and his wife gave Countee Cullen wonderful opportunities throughout his entire life. As a young schoolboy, he attended the well-known Witt Clinton High School in Manhattan where he began writing poetry at fourteen years old. Countee Cullen’s education did not stop there; in 1922 he entered New York University where his works began to prosper. Countee Cullen’s first journal of poetry, Color, was...