NDG Live

African American Museum in Dallas Fair Park to screen ‘Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond the Mask’ documentary

A screening of the feature-length documentary on the life and legacy of the first African American poet/writer to gain international fame, “Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond The Mask,” will take place on Saturday, April 29, at 2:30 p.m. at the African American Museum in Dallas.

Frederick Lewis – an acclaimed filmmaker, writer and director and professor of media arts at Ohio University – will be on hand to introduce the film and lead a post-screening discussion. The event is free and open to the public.

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.”


Filmmaker Frederick Lewis chronicles the life and legacy of the first African American poet/writer to gain international fame (Courtesy photo)

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.
Lewis’ independent documentaries have been seen on PBS stations throughout the U.S. and 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.

“This screening has been in the planning stages for many months,” said Lewis. “I’m looking forward to sharing the story of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s brief but brave, prolific life with the people of Dallas.”

The African American Museum, Dallas is located at 3536 Grand Ave., in Dallas’ historic Fair Park. The museum is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free self-parking is available in nearby lots. For more information, go to aamdallas.org or call 214-565-9026.

The African American Museum, Dallas was founded in 1974 as a part of Bishop College. The Museum has operated independently since 1979. For more than 40 years, the African American Museum has stood as a cultural beacon in Dallas and the Southwestern United States. Located in Dallas’ historic Fair Park, the African American Museum is the only museum in the Southwestern United States devoted to the collection, preservation and display of African American artistic, cultural and historical materials that relate to the African American experience. The African American Museum incorporates a wide variety of visual art forms and historical documents that portray the African American experience in the United States, Southwest, and Dallas. The Museum has a small, but rich collection of African art, African American fine art and one of the largest African American folk-art collections in the United States. Learn more at aamdallas.org.

NDG Weekly Picks
North Dallas Gazette


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here