Online: Paul Laurence Dunbar Film & Discussion, “Beyond the Mask”

Paul Laurence Dunbar Film & Discussion – “Beyond the Mask”

For National Poetry Month, the Chilmark, Vineyard Haven, West Tisbury and Edgartown libraries present “Beyond the Mask,” a documentary on the life and legacy of Paul Laurence Dunbar, the first African American to achieve national fame as a writer. Written, directed & co-produced by Dr. Frederick Lewis. View the trailer here:

Between April 8-12, view the film anytime for free from home. On Saturday, April 10 at 6:00pm, please join us on Zoom to meet the director, Dr. Frederick Lewis, as he speaks about his film and the legacy of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Please email to receive the screening link and Zoom invitation. This event is free and open to the public!

About the film:
Dunbar’s story strongly reflects the African American experience around the turn of the century.

Born to former slaves in Dayton, Ohio, where he was boyhood friends with the Wright Brothers, Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) is best remembered for his poem “We Wear The Mask” and for lines from “Sympathy” that became the title of Maya Angelou’s famous autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Dunbar, whom abolitionist Frederick Douglass called “the most promising young colored man in America,” wrote widely published essays critical of Jim Crow laws, lynching and what was commonly called “The Negro Problem.” However, to earn a living, he also wrote poems and short stories in “Plantation dialect” and contributed lyrics for Broadway musicals that bordered on blackface minstrelsy.