2020-21 School Pre-Registration Questionnaire

Pre- Registration Questionnaire

Parents and Guardians, now through July 6, complete a questionnaire by selecting the option you are most comfortable with for your child to start the 2020/21 school year.

Please complete a student-specific School Pre-Registration Questionnaire to assist us in planning for the needs of your child. The Pre-Registration Questionnaire may be accessed by logging onto your child’s Single Sign-On LaunchPad at sso.browardschools.com and clicking on the Virtual Counselor tile.  Please complete the questionnaire by Monday, July 6, 2020.

2020-21 School Pre-Registration Questionnaire


BCPS Awarded More Than $9 Million in State and Federal Grants Related to School Safety, Security and Resiliency

June 30, 2020

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) has been awarded state and federal grants with a combined total of more than $9 million. Funding from the two grants supports the District’s ongoing focus on safety and security measures Districtwide and will reimburse costs associated with providing increased mental health services for students, families and employees following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy. The BCPS Grants Administration Department worked with the Division of Safety, Security and Emergency Preparedness and the Student Support Initiatives Department to apply for and ultimately be awarded the two grants.

Below are brief overviews of the grants.

  • Florida Department of Education School Safety and Security (School Hardening) grant:

Approximately $4.8 million

The Florida Department of Education’s Office of Safe Schools developed a School Security Risk Assessment (SSRA) designed to help school officials identify threats, vulnerabilities and appropriate safety controls for each campus. All BCPS traditional District public schools completed their security risk assessments by October 1, 2019. Through the SSRAs, the District identified areas of need and will use the grant funds to:

  • Incorporate enhancements to single point of entry (SPE) at District schools, such as by providing voice/video capability allowing school staff to view and interact with visitors prior to allowing entrance through SPE. 
  • Build emergency communications capacity with upgrades to bidirectional amplifier systems at selected schools to improve communication capabilities for first responders on campus.
  • Increase analytic surveillance camera presence with additional cameras installed to safeguard critical areas not covered during previous camera projects for schools that already have the enhanced SPE configuration described above. 
  • S. Department of Justice Office of Victims of Crime Grant sub-award:

Approximately $4.9 million

The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Victims of Crime grant sub-award, also known as the Anti-Terrorism and Emergency Response Program (AEAP), supports communities responding to terrorist attacks and mass violence. BCPS, Children’s Services Council and United Way of Broward County were invited by the Florida Office of the Attorney General Division of Victim Services to submit an AEAP application following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy. The funds reimburse costs associated with providing ongoing trauma-informed, evidence-based healing and resiliency services to students, families and employees since February 14, 2018.

To learn more about the District’s Grants Administration Department, visit browardschools.com/grants.




“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth largest school district in the nation and the second largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has nearly 270,000 students and approximately 175,000 adult students in 241 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 89 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 204 different countries and 191 different languages. To connect with BCPS, visit browardschools.com, follow us on Twitter @browardschools, on Facebook at facebook.com/browardschools.com and download the free BCPS mobile app.


Today in History – June 30

President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Valley Grant Act, Senate Bill 203, on June 30, 1864. The legislation gave California the Yosemite Valley and the nearby Mariposa Big Tree Grove “upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation.”

…[T]he wonders of this region of sublimity, have been a source of inspiration to visitors, but none have been able to describe it to the satisfaction of those who followed after them.

Discovery of the Yosemite, and the Indian War of 1851…, by Houghton Bunnell Lafayette. New York: F.H. Revell Company, c1892. 246. The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920

Panorama of Yosemite Valley[California]. Haines Photo Co., c1915. Panoramic Photographs. Prints & Photographs Division
El Capitan. Thomas Hill, artist; Boston : Published by L. Prang & Co., Boston, [1871]. Popular Graphic Arts. Prints & Photographs Division

The newly appointed Yosemite Board of Commissioners confronted the dual task of preserving the magnificent landscape while providing for public recreation. With remarkable foresight, board member and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted recognized that these goals could conflict. In his 1865 Draft of Preliminary Report upon the Yosemite and Big Tree Grove, Olmsted warns that “the slight harm which the few hundred visitors of this year might do, if no care were taken to prevent it, would not be slight, if it should be repeated by millions.”

His concern about overuse of the park was ignored by the Board of Commissioners, and the Report never reached the state legislature.

As Olmsted predicted, the Yosemite Valley and the Big Tree Grove quickly became a “must see” vacation destination. In the 1870s, California tourist Mary Cone traveled by ferry, railroad, stagecoach, wagon, and horseback to reach the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias. In Two Years In California, she describes eating her lunch “under the shadow and protection of one of these great kings of the forest.”

At about the same time, travel writer Caroline Churchill estimated that a week-to-ten-day trip to Yosemite cost $150 dollars including transportation. Despite the expense, Churchill notes:

It is a subject of much regret among the traveling public, that the question of the quality of food served to the unfortunate traveler cannot be made a matter of special legislation. A race of men must deteriorate when fed upon refuse food…I sincerely believe that this…is half the cause of there being so much intemperance in this State.

Over the Purple Hills, or Sketches of Travel in California, Embracing All the Important Points Usually Visited by Tourists, by Caroline M. Churchill. Denver: Mrs. C.M. Churchill, 1881. p127-28. “California as I Saw It”: First-Person Narratives of California’s Early Years, 1849 to 1900. General Collections

However, cost and discomfort were forgotten when:

… the great Yosemite Valley first breaks upon the vision, with a realizing sense of its grandeur. Here the rocks lift their towering heads so loftily to the sky, and the precipices are so fearfully deep, that mighty streams all turn to tears when rushing by, because of taking such a leap.

Over the Purple Hills…, p133. “California as I Saw It”: First-Person Narratives of California’s Early Years, 1849 to 1900. General Collections

Spectacular Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California. Carol M. Highsmith, photographer, [between 1980 and 2006]. Highsmith (Carol M.) Archive. Prints & Photographs Division

Yet California proved unable to care adequately for these extraordinary lands, and by 1890, public sentiment had begun to demand the return of the park to the federal government. Naturalist John Muir was among Yosemite’s most eloquent and outspoken supporters. His articles and books describing the park’s natural wonders inspired public support for the establishment of Yosemite National Park in 1890 and its expansion through the recession of the California parklands in 1905-6. In the highly popular Our National Parks (1901), Muir devoted six chapters to Yosemite. This passage is typical of his reverence for the park:

Nowhere will you see the majestic operations of nature more clearly revealed beside the frailest, most gentle and peaceful things. Nearly all the park is a profound solitude. Yet it is full of charming company, full of God’s thoughts, a place of peace and safety amid the most exalted grandeur and eager enthusiastic action, a new song, a place of beginnings abounding in first lessons on life, mountain-building, eternal, invincible, unbreakable order; with sermons in stones, storms, trees, flowers, and animals brimful of humanity.

Our National Parks, by John Muir. New York: Houghton Mifflin and company, 1901. 78. The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920

Today, Yosemite National Park encompasses nearly 1,200 square miles of the central Sierra Nevada mountain range. With elevations as high as 13,000 feet above sea level, the park preserves alpine wilderness, groves of Giant Sequoias and the Yosemite Valley’s splendid cliffs, waterfalls, wildflowers, and impressive rock formations.

Mirror Lake,Yosemite, Carleton E. Watkins, photographer, ca. 1865. The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920

Carleton E. Watkins was one of California’s early commercial photographers. In the 1860s, he created some of the first and most important photographs of the Yosemite region.

“Fallen Monarch,” September 15, 1911, Mariposa Big Tree Grove. [Yosemite National Park, California] Pacific Photo Co., c1911. Panoramic Photographs. Prints & Photographs Division


Florida governor signs $92.2B budget after slashing $1B

TALLAHASSEE, Fa. (AP) — Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis slashed $1 billion from the state budget lawmakers approved in March, including some of his own priorities. He said after signing the spending plan Monday that the drop in revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic forced him to make difficult choices.

The state budget for the fiscal year that begins Wednesday will now total $92.2 billion.

DeSantis mostly talked about what was preserved in the budget, including $500 million in pay raises for teachers, a 3% raise for state workers, $625 million for Everglades restoration and other water quality projects and a boost in spending for child welfare.

“My goal was to try to safeguard the historic achievements that we were able to do, while also realizing historic savings so that we could put Florida on a solid fiscal foundation,” DeSantis said at a news conference announcing the budget signing.

He said he vetoed $550 million of his own priorities, including $20 million for a job growth grant fund.

“I want it, but at the same time, sometimes things need to be put on pause,” DeSantis said.

Among other cuts: $41.6 million for a school security program that trains teachers and other personnel to carry guns at school, $135 million to provided bonuses to schools based on their performance, and $225 million for a program that helps local government create and preserve affordable housing.

“As the reality changes, I think we all have to recognize that none of us are going to get everything that we want,” DeSantis said.

Florida doesn’t have an income tax and generates the bulk of its revenue from its sales tax. And that is boosted by the millions of tourists that come to the state each year. With many people not traveling and many residents staying home, the state has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in sales tax collections.

While praising DeSantis for preserving teacher and state worker pay raises, as well as environmental funding, Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani said in an emailed statement that the state wouldn’t have had to cut as much if it eliminated previously approved corporate tax breaks.

“Hard-working Floridians will always lose if we continue to allow corporations to set the funding and policy agenda. Yes, more people are suffering because of COVID-19, but the economic disparities many are feeling today have been the norm for far too many families for far too long,” she said.’

Republican House Speaker Jose Oliva and Republican Senate President Bill Galvano praised the cuts at a time of economic uncertainty, in separate statements emailed to media.

“The situation is still evolving, presenting new challenges on an almost daily basis. Despite these significant challenges, this balanced budget is a work product the people of Florida can be proud of,” Galvano said. “Key priorities are funded, and our state remains on solid financial footing heading into the new fiscal year. ”

The budget was approved in March, just as DeSantis was shutting down the state to try to prevent the spread of the virus. In the first two months of the shutdown, the state lost more than $1.5 billion in revenue, but still didn’t have to adjust the budget for the fiscal year ending Tuesday.

In all, more than 600 individual items were vetoed from the budget, including money for local projects and university programs. They ranged across projects big and small, like a $20,000 cut for Miami Gardens drainage improvement and $21 million to build a new Second District Court of Appeal in Pinellas County.

The state has gradually reopened with restaurants, retails stores, gyms and other businesses allowed to bring customers in at a limited capacity and with safety guidelines. But the state had to take a step back on Friday, when bars were ordered to stop serving alcoholic beverages. DeSantis has blamed a recent spike in coronavirus cases on some bars and younger people not following guidelines like social distancing and capacity restrictions.

Still DeSantis policy director Chris Spencer said the state’s month by month revenue shortfall compared to original predictions is starting to trend lower, from $878 million in March to a June report that should show about a $550 million shortfall. He expressed optimism that the state won’t have to make budget cuts later in the fiscal year if the shortfall keeps shrinking.

“The worst is behind us,” he said. “We feel confident with the reserves that we’ve accounted for and the vetoes that we’ve done and another host of measures that we’ve taken, that we have the resources that we need to absorb those losses going into the next fiscal year,” Spencer said.


AP reporter Boby Caina Calvan contributed to this report.

Web Only

Please enable JavaScript to view the

comments powered by Disqus.

Back to Top Back to Top


Today in History – June 29

On June 29, 1852, statesman Henry Clay, known as “the Great Compromiser” for his feats of legislative reconciliation between the North and the South, died at the age of seventy-five at the Old National Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Henry Clay, head-and-shoulders length studio portrait…. Frederick De Bourg Richards, photographer,[between 1845 and 1852]. Prints & Photographs Division

I implore, as the best blessing which Heaven can bestow upon me upon earth, that if the direful and sad event of the dissolution of the Union shall happen, I may not survive to behold the sad and heart-rending spectacle.

“On the Compromise Resolutions,” speech before the U.S. Senate, February 5 and 6, 1850, The Life and Speeches of Henry Clay (Littleton, Colorado: Fred B. Rothman, 1987), 2: 664.

Born on a farm in Virginia on April 12, 1777, Clay practiced law in Virginia and Kentucky before embarking on a political career. He represented Kentucky both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives and was a guiding force in American political life. He served as Speaker of the House of Representatives (as a Democratic Republican) from 1811-20 and again from 1823-24. He advocated U.S. entry into the War of 1812 with such nationalistic fervor that he earned himself the sobriquet “War Hawk.” Clay also played a role in the negotiation of that war’s peace as one of five commissioners who drafted the Treaty of Ghent.

Henry Clay’s Appointment as Secretary of State, March 7, 1825. Henry Clay Family Papers, 1732-1927. Manuscript Division

Representing the state of Kentucky in the U.S. Congress, Clay eloquently promoted the “American System,” his plan to support domestic industry and agriculture (and reduce dependence on imports) through improved transportation routes, a protective tariff, and a national bank. In 1820, he negotiated the passage of the first of the three pieces of legislation that earned him the titles of the “Great Pacificator” and the “Great Compromiser.” The Missouri Compromise, the first piece of legislation, soothed the anxieties of both Southern and Northern factions by maintaining a balance between the number of states that permitted slavery and those that prohibited slavery.

Clay was unsuccessful in his bid to become the presidential candidate of the Democratic Republican Party in 1824. He then gave his support to John Quincy Adams and when Adams won the election, he appointed Clay secretary of state. Clay again failed in his bids to become the presidential candidate of the National Republican Party in 1832 and of the Whig Party in 1844. His opposition to the annexation of Texas—because the state’s entry into the Union would have upset the balance of slave and free states—cost him the presidential election of 1844. Nonetheless, he remained a guiding force in American political life, exercising leadership in both the House and the Senate.

Grand National Whig Banner. “Onward.” New York: Lith & Pub. by N[athaniel] Currier, 1844. Popular Graphic Arts. Prints & Photographs Division

Currier is known to have produced at least three Whig banners for the 1844 election. This example features oval portraits, framed in laurel, of Whig presidential and vice-presidential candidates Henry Clay (left) and Theodore M. Frelinghuysen (right). “The Nation’s Choice For President & Vice President” is inscribed on a banderole below the portraits. An eagle and several American flags appear in a burst of light above the portraits, as does the campaign slogan “Justice to Harry of the West.”

The United States Senate, A.D. 1850… P.F. Rothermel, artist; R. Whitechurch, engraver; Philadelphia, Pa: John M. Butler & Alfred Long, c1855. Popular Graphic Arts. Prints & Photographs Division

The engraving depicts Henry Clay addressing the Senate. Daniel Webster is seated to the left of Clay and John C. Calhoun is to the left of the Speaker’s chair.

A Jeffersonian Republican, Clay advocated the gradual abolition of slavery. (In his will, Clay freed the slaves of Ashland, his Kentucky plantation.) He was active in the movement to resettle freed slaves in Liberia, which was led by the American Society for Colonizing the Free People of Colour of the United States (or, American Colonization Society), of which he was a founding member.

Clay’s efforts to balance the rights of free and slave states postponed the outbreak of the Civil War. With South Carolina’s Senator John C. Calhoun, Clay drafted his second piece of compromise legislation that enabled the passage of the 1833 tariff, thus averting the Nullification Crisis.

The third compromise bill to which Clay lent his eloquence was the Compromise of 1850. With orators Daniel Webster and Stephen Douglas, Clay argued for tolerance among factions and for the preservation of the Union. At the end of his famous speech of February 6, 1850, Clay prayed that he would not live to see the nation torn apart by civil war.

In an American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940 interview, Mrs. William Price, a Texas pioneer, recounts stories told by her Kentuckian father about the state’s famous native son:

It was in the year that my father came to Texas that Henry Clay made his last great speech when the Missouri Compromise again was the subject of debate, in this speech he won the name of “The Pacificator.” It was thought to be the cause of his death, the effort he put forth in his failing health. It is enough to tell you that the followers of this man honored and admired him fro [sic] his attempt in the troublesome days before the Civil War to help to hold his state in the Union.

Mrs. William Price.” Miss Effie Cowan, interviewer; Marlin, Texas, ca. 1936-1939. American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940. Manuscript Division

Richmond, Va. Henry Clay Memorial on the Capitol Grounds. [1865]. Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints. Prints & Photographs Division


Florida visitor suspected of spreading virus on return to NY

NEW YORK (AP) — Health officials are investigating whether someone returning to the New York City area from Florida spread the coronavirus at a high school graduation in suburban Westchester County.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the investigation on Saturday after New York, New Jersey and Connecticut enacted 14-day traveler quarantines to try to check the spread of the virus.

A person “who had recently traveled to Florida and attended the ceremony subsequently began showing symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19,” the governor’s office said in a statement. “Since then, four more individuals who attended the ceremony and had contact with the first positive case have also tested positive.”

It’s suspected the infections occurred at a “drive in” graduation ceremony at Horace Greeley High School or at a related event a week ago in Chappaqua, New York, officials said. Anyone who attended the graduation is expected to self-quarantine until July 5, they said.

A message was left on Saturday seeking comment from school district officials.

Web Only

Please enable JavaScript to view the

comments powered by Disqus.

Back to Top Back to Top


Today in History – June 28

June 28, 1969 marks the beginning of the Stonewall Uprising, a series of events between police and LGBTQ+ protesters that stretched over six days. It was not the first time police raided a gay bar, and it was not the first time LGBTQ+ people fought back, but the events that would unfold over the next six days would fundamentally change the nature of LGBTQ+ activism in the United States. We invite you to learn more about the Stonewall Uprising, and LGBTQ+ history in general, through the rich and diverse collections at the Library of Congress.

Map for Pride Power ’94, a 10 day festival of pride & spirit. New York: New York, 1994. Prints & Photographs Division.

LGBTQ+ New York in the 1960s

In 1969, the Stonewall Inn was one of the most popular gay bars in New York City.  Throughout the state, it was illegal to serve alcohol to a gay person until 1966External, and in 1969, homosexuality was still considered a criminal offense. This led many gay establishments to operate sans liquor license, providing an open door for raids and police brutality. The Stonewall Inn was owned by the mafia, and as long as they continued to make a profit, they cared very little about what happened to their clientele. The police raids on gay bars and spaces was not isolated to the East and West coasts, but was a phenomenon happening across the U.S. during this time.

June 28, 1969: The Full Moon Rises Over Stonewall 

During the early morning hours (around 1:15-1:20a.m.) on June 28, 1969, plainclothes officers from the New York Police Department arrived at the Stonewall Inn. The police justified the raid with a search warrant, authorizing them to investigate the illegal sale of alcohol at Stonewall. Led by Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine, the police entered the establishment and began to interrogate the patrons.  The raid was routine for a bar like Stonewall, but this time,  events did not unfold according to the inspectors plans.

The turning point came when the police had difficulty keeping a dyke in a patrol car. Three times she slid out and tried to walk away. The last time a cop bodily heaved her in. The crowd shrieked, “Police brutality!” “Pigs!” A few coins sailed through the air…escalated to nickels and quarters. A bottle. Another bottle. Pine says, “Let’s get inside. Lock ourselves inside, it’s safer.”

Full Moon Over the Stonewall, by Howard Smith. The Village Voice, (v.XIV) July 3, 1969, p.1+

While locked inside, the interrogation of patrons and employees continued. Those who had identification were slowly released into the gathering crowd outside, while others were kept inside the bar in preparation for their arrest. The employees and those that were “cross-dressing” were the most visible law-breakers, and therefore the most vulnerable to arrest. Inspector Pine ordered all “cross-dressers” detained, and while a few were able to escape in the commotion, several were arrested. The resistance raged on through the night, with most of the crowds dispersing by 4:00a.m. on June 28th.

But the uprising was far from over. Word of the Stonewall raid spread quickly throughout the city.  By that evening (Saturday June 28), thousands of protesters had gathered at the Stonewall and in the surrounding area. The protests continued into the next week, with another outbreak of intense fighting occurring on that following Wednesday.

Who was at Stonewall?

As Stonewall has become mythologized in history, important details have been obscured. For instance, many have decried the erasure of lesbians, drag queens, queer youth, and transgender and gender non-conforming people, and their role in the uprising and the political organizing that led to the moment. These individuals and communities were an easy target for the police, because in New York in 1969, it was illegal to wear fewer than three items of “gender-inappropriate” clothing (See: New York Penal Code 240.35, Subsection 4). In fact, we know according to newspapers and other first-hand accounts that at least two “drag queens” were arrested at Stonewall.

Considered to be one of the most accurate depictions of Stonewall the article entitled “Queen PowerExternal,” described the centrality of drag queens to the events of Stonewall. One can find further accounts of the involvement of drag queens at Stonewall by reading Drag MagazineExternal, the official organ of the Queens Liberation Front. Lee BrewsterExternal co-founded Drag Magazine and the Queens Liberation Front (QLF) in 1970, which worked in tandem to overturn New York laws outlawing cross-dressing.

Chief Hanson will not meet with the gay community… Union of Sexual Minorities, [between 1965 and 1980]. Posters: Yanker Poster Collection. Prints & Photographs Division

The Birth of Pride: Commemorating the Christopher Street Uprisings

“Many new activists consider the Stonewall Uprising the birth of the gay liberation movement. Certainly it was the birth of gay pride of a massive scale”

The Gay Crusaders, by Kay Tobin & Randy Wicker. New York: Paperback Library, 1972.

Christopher Street Liberation Day. June 28 1970.External Image Courtesy of the Digital Public Library of AmericaExternal. An original is held in the Lilli Vincenz Papers, 1879-2013. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.

The first Pride march was held on June 28 1970, on the one year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Primary sources provide detailed information about how this first Pride march was planned, and the reasons why activists felt so strongly that it should exist. To get planning underway, activists formed the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee. From the outset, the committee defined it’s aim of holding a massive march at the culmination of Gay Pride Week (June 22-28).

This, the very first U.S. Gay Pride Week and March, was meant to give the community a chance to gather together to, “…commemorate the Christopher Street Uprisings of last summer in which thousands of homosexuals went to the streets to demonstrate against centuries of abuse….from government hostility to employment and housing discrimination, Mafia control of Gay bars, and anti-Homosexual laws” (Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee FliersExternal, University of Connecticut).  Since then, LGBTQ+ people have continued to gather together in June to march with Pride.

The Stonewall Inn has now been designated as a National Monument.


Today in History – June 27

Paul Laurence Dunbar was born on June 27, 1872, in Dayton, Ohio. Although he died when he was only thirty-three, Dunbar had achieved international acclaim as a poet, short story writer, novelist, dramatist, and lyricist.

Paul Laurence Dunbar External, ca. 1890. The African-American Experience in Ohio: Selections from the Ohio Historical Society External

Dunbar was the child of former slaves. His father escaped bondage, fled to Canada, and returned to the U.S. to fight in the Civil War as a member of the Massachusetts 55th Regiment. At the time Dunbar’s mother escaped enslavement via the Underground Railroad, emancipation was declared. His parents met years later and married in Dayton, Ohio, where Paul was born. From his mother’s many stories of the South, young Dunbar acquired an understanding of Southern life and came to speak both Southern dialect and standard American English.

The Dayton area was a center of black religious activity. Dunbar attended the Eaker Street A.M.E. Church where he gave his very first poetry recitals. Nearby Wilberforce College boasted prominent African Americans such as W. E. B. DuBois among its faculty members.

Although he was the only African American in his middle and high schools, Dunbar was accepted by his classmates and served as editor of his high school paper and president of the literary club. He counted classmate Orville Wright as one of his best friends. Together, the two boys briefly published a newspaper, the Dayton Tattler External; their money ran out after just three issues.

Parade Ground and Campus, Soldiers’ Home, Dayton, Ohio. William Henry Jackson, photographer, ca. 1902. Detroit Publishing Company. Prints & Photographs Division

Dunbar’s parents separated when he was a child and his father lived for years at the Soldiers’ Home. In 1891, Dunbar graduated from Central High School. Central was demolished in 1894 and a new school, Steele, was constructed at the southeast corner of North Main Street and Monument Avenue.

Steele High School and Soldiers’ Monument, Dayton, Ohio. ca. 1900-1906. Detroit Publishing Company. Prints & Photographs Division
Main Street, Dayton, Ohio. c1904. Detroit Publishing Company. Prints & Photographs Division

Dunbar worked as an elevator operator in the Callahan Building (spired building, above) on Main Street. In 1892, Dunbar published a volume of his own poetry entitled Oak and Ivy, which he sold to his elevator passengers.

In 1893, Dunbar went to Chicago with plans to write about the World’s Columbian Exposition where he met Frederick Douglass, then commissioner of the fair’s Haitian Pavilion. Douglass invited Dunbar to work as his personal assistant and to share the podium, supporting the young poet’s efforts. During the fair Dunbar met a number of his peers and future literary lights including James Weldon Johnson, Richard B. Harrison, and Will Marion Cook, with whom he later wrote the theatrical piece Clorinda: The Origin of the Cake Walk. (See the two 1903 films Cake Walk and Comedy Cake Walk documenting this dance featuring fancy strutting, named after the prize awarded in the original contests.)

After the publication of Majors and Minors (1895) and Lyrics of a Lowly Life (1896), Dunbar’s name became internationally recognized. During a trip to England, Dunbar met the African-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. The two men collaborated on a collection of choral pieces entitled Seven African Romances and the opera Dream Lovers.

Returning from abroad, Dunbar settled in Washington, D.C., and accepted a position as a library assistant at the Library of Congress. He found the work tiresome, however, and it is believed that the Library’s dust contributed to his worsening case of tuberculosis. He worked there for only a year before quitting to write and recite from his works full time.

Letter. Paul Laurence Dunbar to Booker T. Washington, January 23, 1902. (Booker T. Washington Papers). Manuscript Division. The African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship. Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society, Paul Laurence Dunbar House State Memorial

In 1902, Booker T. Washington commissioned Dunbar to write the school song for the Tuskegee Institute. Dunbar wrote lyrics to the tune of “Fair Harvard.” Washington was not pleased with the “Tuskegee Song.” He objected to Dunbar’s emphasis on “the industrial idea,” and the exclusion of biblical references. In this letter to Washington, Dunbar defends his work.

The Tuskegee Song External.” Nathaniel Clark Smith, music; Paul Laurence Dunbar, words; Tuskegee Institute Press, Tuskegee, Alabama. African American Sheet Music External

By the turn of the century, Paul Laurence Dunbar was the most celebrated black writer in America. He wrote for the broadest possible audience, yet his reputation rested on his mastery of dialect verse which employed colloquial vocabulary and spellings that were, for the most part, African American. In his use of vernacular speech, Dunbar has been compared to Mark Twain and James Whitcomb Riley.

Dunbar published twenty-two books and numerous articles and poems before his death in 1906—likely the result of a combination of factors including tuberculosis, exhaustion in the wake of pneumonia, and alcoholism.

Lay me down beneaf de willers in de grass,
Whah de branch go a-singin’ as to pass;
an’ w’en I’s a-layin’ low,
I kin hyeah it as it go,
Singin’, “Sleep, my honey; tek yo res’ at las’.”

Inscription on the grave of Paul Laurence Dunbar


Today in History – June 26

On June 26, 1870, the first section of the Atlantic City Boardwalk opened along the New Jersey beach. Dr. Jonathan Pitney and civil engineer Richard Osborne began developing the area on Absecon Island in the early 1850s. Long before this time, members of the Lenni-Lenape tribe were the first seasonal visitors to enjoy the summer splendor of the island.

Rolling Chairs on the Boardwalk, Atlantic City, N.J. [between 1905 and 1920]. Detroit Publishing Company. Prints & Photographs Division

Beautiful beaches, fresh sea air, luxurious hotels, fine restaurants, alluring shops, and a connecting railroad line from Camden, New Jersey, drew visitors from all over the world. Atlantic City soon became a popular summer resort and winter health spa.

Alexander Boardman, a railroad conductor, and Jacob Keim, a hotelier, conceived of the idea of constructing a boardwalk as a means of keeping sand out of the railroad cars and hotels. The city used its tax revenues to build an eight-foot-wide temporary wooden walkway from the beach into town that could be dismantled during the winter.

In the Good Old Summertime. [Atlantic City, New Jersey] c1905. Detroit Publishing Company. Prints & Photographs Division

The rolling chair, introduced in 1884, was the only vehicle allowed on the boardwalk. The boardwalk was soon extended by an enormous amusement pier, the Steel Pier, visible in the background of the photograph above.

Any consideration of the boardwalk demands at least a nod to salt water taffy, a favorite beachside treat. Taffy, a candy made of corn syrup and white sugar is boiled; the confection is pulled and folded, then rolled into a long strip from which shorter (about two-inch-long) strips are cut, wrapped in stick resistant paper, and sold. Along the Atlantic City Boardwalk folks have purchased the product since at least the early 1880s. In 1925, the Supreme Court ruled that the term “salt water taffy” could not be trademarked, a decision which saved candy manufacturers from paying millions of dollars to John R. Edmiston of Wildwood, New Jersey, who claimed to be the originator of the candy and had applied for registration of the term with the U.S. Patent Office.

Bathing Beauties, Atlantic City, N.J. [between 1890 and 1910]. Detroit Publishing Company. Prints & Photographs Division

Early bathers wore bathing dresses of wool flannel with stockings, canvas shoes, and large straw hats. The more daring bloomer suits and stockings worn by these bathing beauties did not catch on until 1907. Censors roamed the beaches monitoring bathers’ self-exposure and looking for offenders who showed more flesh than the local code allowed.

Inter-city Beauties, Atlantic City, 1926. Atlantic Foto Service, 1926. Panoramic Photographs. Prints & Photographs Division

Originally titled “Atlantic City’s Inter-City Beauty Contest,” and traditionally held in Atlantic City since 1921, the Miss America pageant moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2006. The above photograph captures the 1926 contestants vying for the Golden Mermaid trophy.


Florida governor expands school voucher program

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Thursday that expands an existing school voucher program to allow more lower income families to participate.

The bill expands the income level for which families can receive a voucher for students to attend private school. The program gives corporations a tax credit if they provide money for students to switch from public to private schools.

“Florida has the most robust school choice program in the nation and I am proud to sign this legislation which increases the ability for even more families to choose the educational program that best suits their child,” DeSantis said in a media release.

Web Only

Please enable JavaScript to view the

comments powered by Disqus.

Back to Top Back to Top