With National Poetry Month winding down in the U.S., I want to mention Paul Laurence Dunbar. He was the first African American poet to gain notoriety. His home, now owned by the Ohio Historical Society, also has the distinction of being the first state memorial in Ohio to honor an African American. The Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial is on the Best Historic Sites in Dayton list and is touted as being a place to find out, not only about Dunbar, but about the history of the times. For example, he was the son of freed slaves from Kentucky.
Dunbar, along with being a poet, was a friend of Wilbur and Orville Wright since Dayton was their stomping ground too. Unfortunately, Dunbar’s life was not a long one. He died at age 33 of tuberculosis, but for such a short life he left a legacy for those of us traveling by to enjoy. If you do plan to visit, the house is only open during the weekends in April and May, but in the summer the hours expand to include Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Also, besides tours of the house where you can imagine what it was like during Dunbar’s time, there are events held throughout the summer and fall.
For a radio broadcast about Dunbar and his poetry that was on National Public Radio last year, click here. It was to celebrate him 100 years after his death.