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Paul Laurence Dunbar

1872–1906
Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1903. (Photograph by "Baker," The Booklovers Magazine, July 1903; public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Major works:
Majors and Minors • “A Negro Love Song” • “Signs of the Times” • “Sympathy” • The Sport of the Gods

“Paul Laurence Dunbar stands out as the first poet from the Negro race in the United States to show a combined mastery over poetic material and poetic technique, to reveal innate literary distinction in what he wrote, and to maintain a high level of performance. He was the first to rise to a height from which he could take a perspective view of his own race. He was the first to see objectively its humor, its superstitions, its short-comings; the first to feel sympathetically its heart-wounds, its yearnings, its aspirations, and to voice them all in a purely literary form.”—James Weldon Johnson

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