Paul Laurence Dunbar: The 19th Century Poet, Lyricist and Author Who Celebrated Black Speech and Vernacular #WorldPoetryDay (LISTEN)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

On #WorldPoetryDay, we celebrate poet and author Paul Laurence Dunbar, one of the first African American writers to celebrate Black speech and vernacular in his works.

Dunbar is featured in today’s GBN Daily Drop podcast, based on the Monday, March 21 entry from our “A Year of Good Black News” Page-A-Day®️ Calendar for 2022:

You can follow or subscribe to the Good Black News Daily Drop Podcast through Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or create your own RSS Feed. Or just check it out every day here on the main website (transcript below):


Hey, this Lori Lakin Hutcherson, founder and editor in chief of, here to share with you a daily drop of Good Black News for Monday, March 21st, 2022, based on the “A Year of Good Black News Page-A-Day Calendar” published by Workman Publishing.

Though several O.G. rappers jump-started their careers by selling CDs out of the trunks of their cars, the real O.G. was 19th century poet Paul Laurence Dunbar – he sold his poems to people riding in the elevator he operated!

One of the first African American writers to garner international fame, Dunbar celebrated Black speech and vernacular in many of his works.

In 1903 he wrote the lyrics for In Dahomey, the first all-African American musical produced on Broadway, but his best-known legacy — other than the poem We Wear The Mask — most likely springs from 20th century poet Maya Angelou, who “sampled” Dunbar’s poem Sympathy for her autobiography’s title: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

To learn more about Dayton, Ohio native Dunbar, read the 2017 paperback of The Life and Works Of Paul Laurence Dunbar: Containing His Complete Poetical Works, His Best Short Stories, Numerous Anecdotes And A Complete Biography Of The Famous Poet, you can pre-order the upcoming 2022 release Paul Laurence Dunbar: Life and Times of a Caged Bird by Gene Andrew Jarrett, check out the 2018 documentary Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond The Mask produced by the Central Region Humanities Center at Ohio University, and the 2021 episode about Dunbar of the virtual series We, Too, Sing America produced by Aural Compass Projects, currently available on YouTube. A great deal of Dunbar’s poetry also can be found in the public domain.

Links to these sources and more are provided in today’s show notes and in the episode’s full transcript posted on

This has been a daily drop of Good Black News, based on the “A Year of Good Black News Page-A-Day Calendar for 2022,” published by Workman Publishing.

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