Help blow out the candles for a famed Dayton poet

Free birthday parties this weekend to celebrate life of Paul Laurence Dunbar

You’re invited to a birthday party for one of Dayton’s luminaries.

Paul Laurence Dunbar, one of the first nationally acclaimed African-American writers, was born in Dayton on June 27, 1872.

To commemorate Dunbar’s life, two days of free fun and activities will be held this weekend at his home, the Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site at 219 N. Paul Laurence Dunbar St. in Dayton.

On Saturday the event, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., will feature tours of Dunbar’s historic home, music and storytelling and hot dogs, chips, veggie burgers, cake and ice cream.

Sunday’s party, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. will be geared to youth with games, trivia, poetry and birthday cake.

At the age of six Dunbar wrote his first poem. He attended Central High School, where he edited the Dayton Tattler, an African-American newspaper published by his classmate Orville Wright.

After high school he found work as an elevator operator in the Callahan Building where he scribbled down bits of poetry between calls and studied the dialects of the riders. That work eventually led to his first self-published book, “Oak and Ivy.”

“Majors and Minors,” his second book of poetry was published in 1896 and transported him to national acclaim. He toured the United States giving public readings and in 1897 sailed to London where he traveled in English literary circles.

Dunbar purchased the two-story brick house on Summit Street in 1904 for his mother, Matilda. The poet had chronic health problems and his mother cared for her son the final years of his life at the house before he died on Feb. 9, 1906 at age 33.

The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park along with the Dunbar Branch of the Association for the Study of African American life and History are hosting the event.

For more information call 937.225.7705 or email Ranger Gregg at

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