Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), Ohio’s most celebrated poet, was first published in the Dayton Herald at age 14. Unable to afford college, he worked as an elevator operator during which time he self-published his first book of poems and sold it to passengers for a dollar. His second book catapulted his career with a review in Harper’s.
Dunbar’s work, a mix of classical writing and black dialect, evoked slavery and plantation life, and he influenced generations of African American poets, including Cleveland’s Langston Hughes.
In 1936, Dunbar’s home in Dayton became the first state memorial dedicated to an African American.
– Eve Lederman, The 100 Companies