Paul Laurence Dunbar

 6/27/1872 - 2/9/1906 

Inducted 1996


Paul Laurence Dunbar was the first internationally renowned African American poet and writer. Although both of Mr. Dunbar’s parents were illiterate, his mother strongly encouraged him to get an education. He became the president of the literary society at Dayton Central High School and the editor of the school paper. After graduation, he collaborated with his schoolmate Orville Wright on the Dayton Tattler, a black neighborhood newspaper printed by the Wright brothers on their West Third Street presses. Over his tragically short lifetime, Paul Laurence Dunbar produced a body of work which included novels, plays, short stories, newspaper articles, essays, and over 600 poems. His work contributed to a growing social consciousness and cultural identity for African Americans of the period. He is associated with the early civil rights leaders W.E.B. Du Bois, Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington.