Wright State’s ‘Dunbar: 150′ salutes poet’s birth

A cabinet card portrait of author Paul Laurence Dunbar as a young man in 1890. Dunbar was born in Dayton in 1872 to former slaves and was the first African American poet to receive critical acclaim for his work. He died in Dayton Feb. 9, 1906. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE OHIO HISTORY CONNECTION

caption arrowCaption
A cabinet card portrait of author Paul Laurence Dunbar as a young man in 1890. Dunbar was born in Dayton in 1872 to former slaves and was the first African American poet to receive critical acclaim for his work. He died in Dayton Feb. 9, 1906. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE OHIO HISTORY CONNECTION

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.

caption arrowCaption
A cabinet card portrait of author Paul Laurence Dunbar as a young man in 1890. Dunbar was born in Dayton in 1872 to former slaves and was the first African American poet to receive critical acclaim for his work. He died in Dayton Feb. 9, 1906. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE OHIO HISTORY CONNECTION

A cabinet card portrait of author Paul Laurence Dunbar as a young man in 1890. Dunbar was born in Dayton in 1872 to former slaves and was the first African American poet to receive critical acclaim for his work. He died in Dayton Feb. 9, 1906. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE OHIO HISTORY CONNECTION

caption arrowCaption
A cabinet card portrait of author Paul Laurence Dunbar as a young man in 1890. Dunbar was born in Dayton in 1872 to former slaves and was the first African American poet to receive critical acclaim for his work. He died in Dayton Feb. 9, 1906. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE OHIO HISTORY CONNECTION

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.

ExploreOscar-winning, Centerville-raised Wright State grad reflects on career

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.

caption arrowCaption
Paul Laurence Dunbar, one of the first nationally-known African-American writers, purchased a two-story brick house at 219 N. Summit St. in Dayton in 1904 for his mother, Matilda (left). Dunbar lived in the home until his death in 1906. His mother lived there until her death in 1934. PHOTO: THE OHIO HISTORY CONNECTION

Paul Laurence Dunbar, one of the first nationally-known African-American writers, purchased a two-story brick house at 219 N. Summit St. in Dayton in 1904 for his mother, Matilda (left). Dunbar lived in the home until his death in 1906. His mother lived there until her death in 1934. PHOTO: THE OHIO HISTORY CONNECTION

caption arrowCaption
Paul Laurence Dunbar, one of the first nationally-known African-American writers, purchased a two-story brick house at 219 N. Summit St. in Dayton in 1904 for his mother, Matilda (left). Dunbar lived in the home until his death in 1906. His mother lived there until her death in 1934. PHOTO: THE OHIO HISTORY CONNECTION

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.

Webex

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.

Dunbar Library

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.

ExploreWorld premiere opera focuses on Katharine Wright, sister of the famous brothers

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.

About the Author