Paul Laurence Dunbar poses with his classmates at Dayton Central High School in 1890. Orville Wright (back row, center) was one of Dunbar's classmates. The Wright brothers later published Dunbar's Tattler, Dayton's first African American newspaper. PHOTO COURTESY OF SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND ARCHIVES, WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY

Did you know: Two of Dayton’s most famous people ever were high school buddies

Did you know Orville Wright and Paul Laurence Dunbar were classmates? 

The Dayton Central High School class photograph above from the Special Collections and Archives at Wright State University captures the two students and their classmates in 1890. 

Dunbar, one of the first nationally- known African American writers, is at the top left.

Wright, who along with his brother Wilbur invented the first successful airplane, is in the center of the back row.

MORE ON DUNBAR AND WRIGHT
» PHOTOS: Paul Laurence Dunbar through the years
» PHOTOS: Orville Wright through the years
» What you should know about Paul Laurence Dunbar
» On his 75th birthday, Orville Wright shares thoughts on life

Though Dunbar was the only African-American in his class, he was president of the literary society, editor of the school newspaper and a member of the debating club, according to the Ohio History Connection. Orville Wright did not finish high school. 

Paul Laurence Dunbar and Orville Wright attended Central High School, Dayton’s first high school. DAYTON METRO LIBRARY / LUTZENBERGER PICTURE COLLECTION
Photo: DAYTON METRO LIBRARY / LUTZENBERGER PICTURE COLLECTION

The teenage classmate’s relationship continued outside of the school room. 

Dunbar published a newspaper called the “Dayton Tattler,” the community’s first African-American newspaper. It was printed by the Wrights who had started a newspaper in 1889 called the “West Side News.”

Days before Orville Wright would celebrate his 75th birthday on August 19, 1946, Marj Heyduck, a reporter for the Dayton Herald, interviewed him for a story commemorating the occasion.
If you enter Paul Laurence Dunbar’s house today you may think the poet has just stepped out. Dunbar, one of the first nationally known African-American writers, purchased the two-story brick house at 219 N. Summit St. in Dayton in 1904 for his mother, Matilda. The poet had chronic health problems throughout his life and had been diagnosed with tuberculosis.

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