December 10, 2018

Paul Laurence Dunbar Fascination

Image result for paul laurence dunbar Celebrated American poet, novelist, and playwright, Paul Laurence Dunbar, wrote no fewer than two musicals on Anita Florence Hemmings. In both Uncle Eph’s Christmas (1899) and Just Lak White Fo’ks (1900), a female character, Parthenia Jenkins and Mandy, respectively, represents Anita Florence Hemmings. This is evident through the character singing a verse from “I’m the Colored Girl from Vassar,” seen below:





There once was a school that was so very rare.
That a poor dusky maid couldn’t breathe its very air.
You couldn’t enter unless you were a millionaire.
To be ought but a blue blood or swell you didn’t dare.
I am the first dark belle who ever went to Vassar.
I played my part so well, I came from Madagascar.
They thought I was a swell and the boys they did adore
And if I gave a smile, they quickly asked for more.
They sent bouquets galore to the elegant brunette.
I’ve got a stocking store of their billet deux.
They did not know sufficient to come in from out the wet.
And now they’re sore, they’re sore you bet. (Dunbar, In His Own Voice, 137-138).

Dunbar, Paul Laurence ed. Herbert Woodward Martin and Ronald Primeau. In his Own Voice: The Dramatic and Other Uncollected Works of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2002.