Paul Laurence Dunbar Is Born

Paul Laurence Dunbar was born on June 27, 1872, in Dayton, Ohio.

Although he died when he was only thirty-three, Dunbar had achieved international acclaim as a poet, short story writer, novelist, dramatist, and lyricist.

Dunbar was the child of former slaves. His father escaped bondage, fled to Canada, and returned to the U.S. to fight in the Civil War as a member of the Massachusetts 55th Regiment. At the time Dunbar's mother escaped enslavement via the Underground Railroad, emancipation was declared. His parents met years later and married in Dayton, Ohio, where Paul was born. From his mother's many stories of the South, young Dunbar acquired an understanding of Southern life and came to speak both Southern dialect and standard American English.

Paul Laurence Dunbar (June 27, 1872 – February 9, 1906) was a seminal American poet of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dunbar gained national recognition for his 1896 Lyrics of a Lowly Life, one poem in the collection Ode to Ethiopia. In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Paul Laurence Dunbar on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.