Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Paul Laurence Dunbar and the Wright Brothers

As you celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight, and I know you will, don't forget to make note of their connection to poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. Dunbar was a class mate of Orville Wright at Dayton, Ohio's Central High School. Dunbar was the only black student in the class.

The Wrights owned a printing press and bicycle shop. Orville helped Dunbar publish the Dayton Tattler, the town's first paper devoted to its black community. Unfortunately it only lasted three issues. The Wrights also built a bike for Dunbar. You can see it if you visit Dunbar's home in Dayton.

How does the Freedom Rider possess such great knowledge? Dayton, Ohio is my father's home town. (Are you happy Dad?) If you happen to visit that fair city I recommend a visit to Dunbar's home. You will be smarter for having done so.

As an aside, Dunbar's mother outlived him by many years. He died of tuberculosis at the age of 33. Mrs. Dunbar attended my family's church, Weyman AME. My grandmother still remembers her and told me that she attended her funeral.

Now my whole family is happy.