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Born in slavery, Matilda learned poetry by listening to her slave-master

read poetry to his family in the evenings, and she was determined that

Paul receive an education and inspired him in the writing of poetry.

 

 

Matilda Jane Dunbar

Mother of a Poet 

 

Native of Kentucky, Matilda Jane Dunbar, wife of Joshua Dunbar, was a remarkable woman. Her beloved son, Paul Laurence Dunbar, was born on June 27, 1872, in Dayton, Ohio, and died in her arms on February 9, 1906. She was a devoted mother and a great influence on her son

When Paul was two years old, Matilda Jane and Joshua separated in 1874. Very little is known of Joshua. Paul had a younger sister, Elizabeth, who died in infancy. His mother was left on her own, making a living as a "colored washerwoman. Among her customers was the Wright family. Born in slavery, Matilda learned poetry by listening to her slave-master read poetry to his family in the evenings, and she was determined that Paul receive an education and inspired him in the writing of poetry.

While growing up, Paul helped his mother by delivering her laundry bundles and working part-time in hotels. Upon graduation he aspired to a career in law but was financially unable to continue his studies. He was rejected for jobs by many Dayton businesses, including newspapers, because of his race. He took a job as an elevator boy in the Callahan Building on Main Street. While employed as an elevator boy, he produced articles, short stories and poems that later earned him fame.

Born into slavery in Fayette County, Kentucky, near Shelbyville, Matilda Jane Dunbar died in Dayton on February 24, 1943. She came to Dayton following the Civil War after marrying Joshua Dunbar, also born a slave. By a previous marriage to Wilson W. Murphy of Louisville, Kentucky, she had two children, William and Robert, about whom very little is known.

posted 22 June 2008

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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Panther Baby

A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention

By Jamal Joseph

In the 1960s he exhorted students at Columbia University to burn their college to the ground. Today he’s chair of their School of the Arts film division. Jamal Joseph’s personal odyssey—from the streets of Harlem to Riker’s Island and Leavenworth to the halls of Columbia—is as gripping as it is inspiring. Eddie Joseph was a high school honor student, slated to graduate early and begin college. But this was the late 1960s in Bronx’s black ghetto, and fifteen-year-old Eddie was introduced to the tenets of the Black Panther Party, which was just gaining a national foothold. By sixteen, his devotion to the cause landed him in prison on the infamous Rikers Island—charged with conspiracy as one of the Panther 21 in one of the most emblematic criminal cases of the sixties. When exonerated, Eddie—now called Jamal—became the youngest spokesperson and leader of the Panthers’ New York chapter.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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