Gumby's People > Paul Laurence Dunbar
As was true for Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois, and the other writers to which Gumby devoted entire scrapbooks or large sections thereof, Paul Laurence Dunbar's volume is largely a repository for examples of his published work. This is certainly the case in the pages reproduced here. This clipped copy of "Darkie's Rainy Day" (see above right: "Laurence Dunbar," p. 16) is a typical example of Dunbar's "dialect verse," through which he attempted to memorialize African-American folk culture by capturing the language he associated with it. Such work--along with many poems written in other dialects as well as standard English--made Dunbar the first widely-read African-American poet of the twentieth century. His popularity was no doubt enhanced by his collaboration as a lyricist for the composer Will Marion Cook on the hit 1903 musical In Dahomey, starring Bert Williams and George Walker, work that is commemorated by the sheet music that Gumby included on the scrapbook's opposite page (see above: "Laurence Dunbar," p. 17). Though Dunbar occasionally generated criticism for his use of language that was superficially similar to minstrel dialogue and the stylized racist work of contemporary white authors like Joel Chandler Harris, he was admired by prominent African-American intellectuals ranging from Frederick Douglass to W.E.B. Du Bois for including recognizably African-American voices in his poetry without demeaning them. He also inspired some of the most influential poets of the later Harlem Renaissance, including Countee Cullen and Hughes.