DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — A year’s worth of events and celebrations are planned to mark 150 years since Paul Laurence Dunbar was born.
The historic Paul Laurence Dunbar House, where he lived the last couple years of his life, celebrates his legacy and puts a spotlight on his work.
“He was able to capture the essence of people through his writing,” states Angela Stewart, Park Ranger and Project Manager for the Paul Laurence Dunbar Sesquicentennial.
Dunbar published hundreds of poems, novels, short stories and song lyrics.
Born in 1872, the literary genius helped shape our culture and put Dayton on the map. He was classmates with Orville Wright, and he was the only African American in his high school class.
“One of the things that I think is neat about this bike is the connection to the Wright Brothers,” states Stewart.
Dunbar rode his bike to his job as an elevator operator, where he shared his writings and work.
“As they’re riding the elevator, he’s reciting poetry and blowing people away and that really transcended race,” says Stewart.
Years later, his voice continues to echo. He died at the age of 33 of tuberculosis, but in his short life, he made a big impact.
Known for breaking barriers, writing about the difficulties and challenges of reaching equality, he made strides in his lifetime and after, and demonstrates the power of words.
“He overcame a lot during his life in order to accomplish what he did,” says Stewart.
A big celebration is planned for June 25 at the Victoria Theater where there will be singing, dancing, and people reciting poetry to honor Dunbar.