On the centennial of Dayton poet Paul Laurence Dunbar’s death, school children and local dignitaries gathered at his grave at Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum this morning (click on photos to enlarge).
Since 1989, Dunbar fans have paid tribute to the poet’s legacy with music, song and poetry at his grave on Feb. 9. The event has grown from five people to about 500.
Today’s celebration brought to mind Dunbar’s poem “The Party”:
“Who was dah? Now who you askin’? How you ‘spect I gwine to know?
You mus’ think I stood an’ counted evahbody at de do’.”
Tim Beatty, director of the Dunbar High School band, played ”Taps.” The Dunbar High School Color Guard raised an”Oak and Ivy” flag.
Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin emceed. G. Edwin Zeiders, president of United Theological Seminary, offered remarks. The Rev. Ronald Glenn, pastor of Wayman Chapel A.M.E. Church, said a prayer. Mitchell Capel, interpreter of Dunbar’s works, read the poem ”To a Dead Friend.” Dayton City Commissioner Joey Williams placed by a wreath on Dunbar’s grave.
“Y’ought to been dah, fu’ I tell you evahthing was rich an’ prime,
An’ dey ain’t no use in talkin’ we jes’ had one scrumptious time!”