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After losing his parents this poet was fostered in the family of Reverend Frederick Cullen, who was pastor of Salem's Methodist Episcopal Church, which was Harlem's bigggest congregation. Here Countee (Porter by birth) Cullen witnessed the beginnings of black politics in America and was influenced by the clergyman who was to be elected president of the chapter which represented Harlem of the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
However injustices such as apartheid and lynchings still burned in his childhood memory and conflicted with his Christian upbringing and anger and this outrage over racial injustice permeated his poetry. His poems were influenced by the attempt to temper his passion for racial justice and in 1929 he published The Black Christ, and Other Poems.In the title poem the singer puts forward the idea of holding on to God despite the cruelty and pain of the unjust obstacles on earth which he sums up in the words "my country's shame." This is in reference to his painful sorrow about his brother's beating and murder by a white lynch mob because he had a seemingly innocuous friendship with with a white woman. The singer sadly has to accept that he feels angry with a God who seems to let cruel unjust things like that happen. However he is saved by his family's faith and rewarded by the resurrection of his brother and the family remains holy and successful.
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