Norton Introduces Bill to Create Commemorative Coin to Honor Paul Laurence Dunbar to Benefit Causes of Dunbar High School Alumni Association
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) introduced the Paul Laurence Dunbar Commemorative Coin Act to direct the Secretary of the Treasury to mint 50,000 five-dollar coins, 400,000 one-dollar coins and 750,000 half-dollar coins in recognition of Paul Laurence Dunbar, one of the most influential African-American poets in American literature. The surcharge on each coin sold would benefit scholarships and similar activities of the Dunbar Alumni Federation, the alumni association for the historic Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School, the first public high school for African Americans in the United States. Norton is a Dunbar alumnus. Many well-known and accomplished African Americans graduated from Dunbar. Among many notable alumni are: Edward Brooke, the first popularly-elected African American to the U.S. Senate; Wesley A. Brown, the first African American to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy; and Robert C. Weaver, the first-ever Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Paul Laurence Dunbar has a special place in my heart as the namesake of my high school, but that is not the reason I have introduced this commemorative coin bill,” Norton said. “Dunbar is revered by Americans as one of the greatest African-American poets in our nation’s history. The Dunbar name is further distinguished by the accomplishments of many of the school’s graduates. Minting a coin in his honor would be a particularly fitting tribute to a man whose poetry captured African Americans in their own terms not long after slavery, while also raising funds for worthy causes undertaken by the Dunbar Alumni Federation.”
Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School was established in the District of Columbia in 1870 as the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth. The school was renamed for Dunbar in 1916.