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Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
Paul Laurence Dunbar was born in Ohio to formerly enslaved parents. In high school, Dunbar was already showing promise as a published poet in the Dayton Herald, and an editor for the Dayton Tattler. The Tattler was a short-lived Black paper in Ohio published by Dunbar’s classmate Orville Wright (later known as the co-inventor of the airplane). Dunbar became well known for writing in Black dialect. However, that poetry only represents a small part of his many novels, short stories, essays, and poems. He was quite prolific for years despite becoming ill, and started to gain wider recognition outside of Ohio, particularly after going on several “reading tours.” He died when he was only 33, leaving behind a literary legacy as one of the foremost Black poets of his day.
Art by Dorian Sylvain
This acrylic portrait was painted by Dorian Sylvain in collaboration with Celia Benito and Kari Blak.
Dorian Sylvain is a painter whose color and texture explore ornamentation, pattern, and design as identifiers of cultural and historical foundations. She is a studio painter and muralist, as well as an art educator, curator, and community planner. Core to her practice is collaborating with children and communities to elevate neighborhood aesthetics and foster shared understanding.