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Paul Laurence Dunbar–Words & Deeds


Recently I read the Paul Laurence Dunbar novel The Sport of the Gods. This short book, published in 1901 as Mr. Dunbar was dying of tuberculosis, is about a black family that has moved from the South to Harlem. As you might suppose, it is a bleak tale.

Mr. Dunbar, who died at age 34 in 1906, was once termed by Booker T. Washington as the “Poet Laureate” of the Negro Race.

Mr. Dunbar was known as a “dialect poet.” He added black “dialect” to his poems. This was not “proper” English. Mr. Dunbar did this to gain acceptance as a poet. Mr. Dunbar did not always want to write in that form, but found it difficult to find equal praise for his poems in standard English.

This is what happens when your work is defined by people, who, whatever they might claim, do not at heart care about you as a human being and do not care about your aspirations in life.


By |2007-12-11T00:20:30-04:00December 11th, 2007|Books, Other Political Thoughts, Race|Comments Off on Paul Laurence Dunbar–Words & Deeds

A High Blood Pressure Of Creeds And An Anemia Of Deeds

The title of this post comes from a Martin Luther King sermon I was listening to in my car this morning on the way to the barbershop. The sermon was called “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life.” King saw these three dimensions as reasonable self-interest, concern for others and faith in God.

The best audio collection of King sermons in called “A Knock At Midnight.” Buy this set of CD’s, stick it in your car’s CD player and it will change your life. (Or, at the least, give you a lot to think about.)  The best book of King sermons is entitled Strength to Love. Strength to Love is just over 150 pages and has that good combination of manageable length and weighty content.

I’m on my second copy of Strength to Love. A few years ago I was eating in a seafood house in Galveston, Texas and the hostess commented on the book. (I always have a book with me when I eat out.)  So I gave it to her. I don’t say this to make me out as a great person. I just want to say that you never know when the chance will come to impact someone’s life. Maybe the young woman still reads the book or maybe she never gave it any thought once she got home.  I just know I did what I could with the opportunity I had.

A chance I missed was about two years ago when I was walking in a secluded Houston city park and I encountered well-known TV preacher Joel Osteen. Osteen is based in Houston. On my walk I was reading a book called The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggmann. The Prophetic Imagination is a book calling upon the church and people of faith to be less a part of consumer culture and less in service to power and to be more involved in justice. This book is now in it’s second edition.

I regret to this day that I did not hand that book to Osteen when I passed him. We were the only two people on that trail that day. Maybe Osteen would have taken it as a signal from God. Who knows? Osteen is not a hate-monger, but neither does he call very loudly for justice.

I hope everyone has a nice Memorial Day holiday.

By |2007-05-25T14:10:02-04:00May 25th, 2007|Books, Religion|Comments Off on A High Blood Pressure Of Creeds And An Anemia Of Deeds
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