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Documentary Screenings: Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond the Mask


Free Screenings at Dayton Metro Library Branches

dunbarPaul Laurence Dunbar may be better known today for the single line of poetry that became the title of Maya Angelou’s book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, than for any of his other writings. But in his time, Dunbar was a national celebrity and the most famous African American writer in the country. Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond the Mask is a feature-length documentary screening free at six Dayton Metro Library locations this spring:

Monday, January 14, 6 p.m.
Westwood Branch, 3207 Hoover Ave.

Saturday, February 2, 11:30 a.m.
Main Library Eichelberger Forum, 215 E. Third St.

Thursday, February 7, 6 p.m.
East Branch, 2008 Wyoming St.

Monday, February 11, 6 p.m.
Main Library Eichelberger Forum, 215 E. Third St.

Thursday, February 14, 1 p.m.
New Lebanon Branch, 715 W. Main St.

Saturday, April 6, 3 p.m.
Trotwood Branch, 651 W. Main St.

Saturday, April 20, 2:30 p.m.
Northwest Branch, 2410 Philadelphia Dr.

Writer/director Frederick Lewis spent more than eight years making the documentary, which incorporates images from the Dayton Metro Library’s Paul Laurence Dunbar collection. The project received support from the Ohio Humanities Council as well as major funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities for his project.

Born in Dayton in 1872 to former slaves, Dunbar was a contemporary and classmate of Orville Wright. While he wrote essays critical of Jim Crow laws and lynching, he also wrote poems in “plantation dialect” and composed songs in the style of blackface minstrels. Dunbar’s story reflects the African American experience at the turn of the 20th century, and is deeply connected to the history of Dayton.



Main Branch

215 E. Third St.
Dayton OH 45402


M, T, Th: 9:30 am - 8:30 pm
W, F: 9:30 am - 6:00 pm
Sat: 9:30 am - 6:00 pm
Sun: 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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