Skip to main content

Dunbar Initiative

About the Dunbar Initiative

Specific Dunbar Initiative elements include the development of new and enhanced undergraduate curricula, the creation of experiential learning and research opportunities for undergraduate students, and the launch of a major digital platform that will make original Dunbar sources, materials, and music freely available for research, teaching, and community engagement.

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio and was the first African American poet to make a living solely by his writing. He remains one of the most important writers in American history. Dunbar spent most of his life here in Dayton, and is buried adjacent to campus within the historic Woodland Cemetery. During his short life, Dunbar produced hundreds of poems, short stories, novels, song lyrics, plays, journals, essays, and political writings.

The Dunbar Initiative seeks to bridge campus and community, teaching and research, and the humanities and other disciplines, by engaging students, researchers, and community members with the many facets of Dunbar’s life. Moreover, it seeks to elevate the experience and contributions of a key figure in American history and culture. If you are interested in the Dunbar Initiative, or want to take part in teaching, research, or community engagement related to Paul Laurence Dunbar, please reach out to the project directors at We welcome your involvement, your ideas, and your contributions.