Paul Laurence Dunbar: 150 years

Image by local artist Angelo Hopson

Paul Laurence Dunbar was one of the first African American literary figures to gain national critical acclaim. On May 2, 1992, Wright State University’s main library was renamed in recognition of Dunbar’s significant literary contributions, importance to Dayton, and friendship with Wilbur and Orville Wright for whom the University is named. This year, we join with the National Parks Service and local organizations in celebrating the 150th anniversary of his birth. 

This spring semester the University Libraries and the Friends of the Libraries will host several events to commemorate the anniversary. These events offer an opportunity to explore the history, the work, and the legacy of this influential author.  

Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond the Mask: Documentary screening and discussion with filmmaker Frederick Lewis 

February 17, 3:00 Register now 

In recognition of Black History Month and as part of the Dunbar 150 Celebrations, the University Libraries present “Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond the Mask,” a documentary on the life and legacy of the first African American to achieve national fame as a writer, followed by a discussion with the filmmaker, Frederick Lewis. Read more details here  

Book Club: The Sport of the Gods 

March 8, 5:30 Register now 

The University Libraries Book Club sponsored by the Friends of the Libraries, WSU Alumni Association, and the WSU Retirees Association continues the 2021-2022 season with one of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s four novels. The Sport of the Gods tells the story of 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 

The book club meets virtually via Webex. Read more details here

Visions of Dunbar 

April 15 4:30 pm 

Paul Laurence Dunbar’s legacy continues to be seen in modern poetry, art, and literature. Perhaps the most well-known is Maya Angelou’s book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, whose title uses the last line of Dunbar’s 1899 poem, Sympathy. To continue the legacy of work inspired by Dunbar, the Friends of the Libraries and the University Libraries invite students from Wright State and area high schools (grades 9-12) to submit original poetry or visual art inspired by the work of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Dunbar’s poems and biographical information are available on the Special Collections & Archives website

Student submissions will be shared at a reception at Dunbar Library on Friday, April 15 at 4:30 pm. The event will include light hors d’oeuvres, and feature presentations from the Northmont High School. Drama Club, and music selections from students in the Wright State University School of Music.  

Friends of the Libraries board members will review all submissions and award distinctions in each category. 

Students can submit original poetry and art now through March 16. Submission form link 

Friends of the Libraries Virtual “Lunch-In” 

April 20, 2022 12:00 p.m.  Register now

The Friends of the Wright State Libraries present Paul Laurence Dunbar, a Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of His Birth, featuring Herbert Woodward Martin, Professor Emeritus, University of Dayton. Join us for a dramatic presentation and discussion as we honor the 150th anniversary of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s birth. Read more details here. 

Silver Melted into Sound music festival

Silver Melted Into Sound 

May 6, 2022 

The Wright State University School of Music will host Silver Melted Into Sound, a music festival for concert band, vocal ensemble, and string orchestra designed to support the programming of diverse composers. 

Performing Ensembles will have 20 minutes on stage in Schuster Hall or in the Festival Theater to perform for feedback from a panel of adjudicators. After their performance, students will meet with a composer for an interactive discussion about the importance of having many voices represented in music literature and the value of performing works by underrepresented composers. Read more details here.