Who is Henry L. Dumas

Henry L. Dumas

Poet, Seer and Short Story Writer

Henry  Dumas was a brilliant African American poet, seer and short story writer.  Henry was born on July 29, 1934, in Sweet Home, Arkansas.  During the 1950s, he served in the Air Force and was stationed in Texas and the Middle East.  Writing poetry and short stories, consumed him during the 1960s.  He studied at City College and Rutgers University, and participated in the Civil Rights and Black Power movements of his time.

He found inspiration in the African and African American experiences.  Some of his fiction employs a style of magic realism, innovative for its time, but quite common nowadays.  In 1976, James Baldwin selected his story "Thalia" for the Black Scholar literary prize.  Dumas was closely associated with the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s, which championed an aesthetic grounded in the black cultural nationalism.  But, in the words of Amiri Baraka, Dumas produced a "a true art form, not twenty 'hate whiteys' and a benediction of sweaty artificial flame, but actual art, real, man, and stunning."  All that ended when he was killed in April 1968, at the age of 33, at Manhattan's 125th Street station by a New York Transit Authority policeman in a case of "mistaken" identity.  Dumas had already completed several manuscripts of poetry and prose, the quality and quantity of which are seldom achieved in one short lifetime.

But his legacy endures through the strivings of the poet Eugene Redmond and the great Toni Morrison. It was Redmond who posthumously edited Dumas' poems

into a book.  It was Morrison, then an editor at Random House, who ultimately published them.

Family Life

Dumas graduated from Harlem' s Commerce High School in 1953 and then attended City College in New York but quit after one year.  He then entered the U.S. Air Force and was stationed primarily at Lackland Air Base in San Antonio, Texas, and on the Arabian Peninsula.  While in the air force, he married Loretta Ponton on September 24, 1955.  They had two sons.

About The Foundation

The family of the late Henry L. Dumas desires to honor and share the rich legacy of Henry Lee Dumas, a world renown poet and writer of short stories. In 2009, Minnie R. Porter Hayes, a cousin of Henry Dumas, established the Henry L. Dumas Foundation, Inc., to create a distinctive cultural and educational venue, to be called, the Henry L. Dumas Library & Cultural Center, located on a historical site

in Sweet Home, Arkansas. The 1.2 acre site is a Craftsman-style residence and commercial building, the former Jesse Thomas Grocery Store, which will both be restored/renovated to house the archival paper and memorabilia of Henry Lee Dumas. The Center shall be a unique venue for learning and exchange of resources towards creating an enhanced educational opportunity for all.

The Henry L. Dumas Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non profit organization and is actively seeking the support of people from all walks of life. It is the Foundation's philosophy that culture and the arts truly represents and enriches the lives of all people. In honor of our native son and for the benefit of the overall community, we are thanking you for your support in advance.

Tax-deductible donations to this worthy cause are much appreciated. Please make payments (of an amount of your choice) to either: the donate now link at the bottom of this page, or Henry L. Dumas Foundation, Inc., P.O.Box 234, Sweet Home (Pulaski County), AR 72164. For more information or if you have any questions, please email us at: haymin27@yahoo.com

A Memorial to Henry Dumas

How we're Helping...

Our first use of the site was to establish the Henry L. Dumas Memorial Organic Vegetable  Garden, whose first harvest was officially dedicated on June 15, 2012.

Establishing the Foundation

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