Paul Laurence Dunbar

There is such a wonderful opportunity to learn and to celebrate the depth and breadth Paul Laurence Dunbar created in his work, especially regarding the diversity of Black cultural life. Although he wrote twelve books of poetry, he was so much more than simply a poet. In his brief life, which spanned thirty-three years, Dunbar authored articles in international publications; four novels; four collections of short stories; lyrics for a musical; and a play!

As activist and diplomat James Weldon Johnson remarked about his very good friend, “Paul Laurence Dunbar stands out as the first poet from the Negro race in the United States to show a combined mastery over poetic material and poetic technique, to reveal innate literary distinction in what he wrote, and to maintain a high level of performance … he was the first to rise to a height from which he could take a perspective view of his own race … he was the first to see objectively its humor, its superstitions, its short-comings; the first to feel sympathetically its heart-wounds, its yearnings, its aspirations, and to voice them all in a purely literary form.”

For greater enlightenment...