Wright State University is marking the 150th anniversary of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s birth with a variety of programming beginning this week and continuing through spring.
Organized by the Wright State University Libraries and Friends of the Libraries, “Paul Laurence Dunbar: 150″ chronicles Dunbar’s influential life, work and legacy. Programs include a screening of a documentary on the poet’s life and work, a book discussion, a poetry and arts event for students, a music festival, and more.
“Dunbar’s writing inspired many other artists and writers, including Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou,” said Mandy Shannon, associate university librarian, in a release. “It’s exciting to offer an opportunity for the next generation of writers and artists to carry on that legacy in their work and to celebrate their accomplishments.”
Born in Dayton on June 27, 1872, Dunbar attended Central High School, where he was the only African American in his class and was a classmate of Orville Wright. He also self-published his first collection of poetry, “Oak and Ivory,” in 1893. He died on Feb. 9, 1906, in Dayton at age 33.
In 1992, Wright State’s main library was renamed in recognition of Dunbar’s literary achievements. The Special Collections and Archives contain several small collections on Dunbar. For more information, visit libraries.wright.edu/special/dunbar.
Paul Laurence Dunbar: 150 events
“Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond the Mark” screening and discussion with filmmaker Frederick Lewis
Thursday, Feb. 17 at 3 p.m.
441 Dunbar Library and on Webex
Released in 2018, this documentary highlights Dunbar’s personal life and career. Registration is required. Lewis is a professor in the School of Media Arts and Studies and director of the Screenwriting and Documentary Storytelling Programs in Ireland and Spain at Ohio University.
Book Club: “The Sport of the Gods”
Tuesday, March 8 at 5:30 p.m.
A discussion of Dunbar’s novel “The Sport of the Gods.” The book explores Berry Hamilton, an emancipated Black man working for a white employer, and the ripple effects on his family and those around them when Berry is accused of stealing money from his employer’s safe. Register online.
Visions of Dunbar
Friday, April 15 at 4:30 p.m.
Students from Wright State and local high schools (grades 9-12) are invited to submit original poetry or visual art inspired by Dunbar’s work. Friends of the Libraries board members will review all submissions and award distinctions in each category.
Student submissions will be shared at a reception at Dunbar Library on Friday, April 15 at 4:30 p.m. The event will feature presentations from the Northmont High School Drama Club and performances by Wright State School of Music students.
Students can submit original poetry and art now through Wednesday, March 16.
Friends of the Libraries Virtual “Lunch-In”
Wednesday, April 20 at noon
“Paul Laurence Dunbar, a Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of His Birth” will feature Herbert Woodward Martin, professor emeritus of English from the University of Dayton. The event will include a dramatic presentation and discussion. Check the Universities Libraries’ blog for details and registration information.
Silver Melted into Sound
Friday, May 6
Schuster Hall and Festival Playhouse of WSU’s Creative Arts Center
This music festival for concert band, vocal ensemble and string orchestra is designed to support the programming of diverse composers. Ensembles will perform in front of a panel of adjudicators then meet with a composer for a discussion about the importance of having many voices represented in music literature and the value of performing works by underrepresented composers.
In addition to drawing attention to Dunbar, the festival will feature a composition contest designed to increase repertoire written by people of color, women and other marginalized genders.
For more information about “Paul Laurence Dunbar: 150,” visit libraries.wright.edu.
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