Join us for a screening of Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond The Mask, a documentary on the life and legacy of the first African American poet/writer to gain international fame. The filmmaker, Frederick Lewis, a professor at Ohio University, will introduce the film and lead a post-screening discussion.
Born to former slaves in Dayton, Ohio, 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.” A clip of Angelou reciting Dunbar’s poem is featured in the film. Dunbar’s story is also the story of the African American experience around the turn of the century. The man 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.”
More than eight years in the making, “Beyond The Mask” received major funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities with additional support from Ohio Humanities.
About the Filmmaker
Writer and director Frederick Lewis is a professor in the School of Media Arts & Studies at Ohio University. His independent documentaries have been seen on PBS stations throughout the U.S. and been screened at more than 100 cultural/educational venues, including the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.
Professor Lewis is a recipient of the Presidential Teacher Award, Ohio University’s highest honor for transformative teaching, curriculum innovation and mentoring. He has been a Fulbright Specialist in Hungary and has also taught or lectured in England, Germany, France, Ukraine, Malaysia and Vietnam.