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Trudier Harris

The literary legacy of Henry Dumas is one that has been kept alive almost single-handedly by fellow poet Eugene Redmond. Dumas inspires interest not only for his unique vision of black people in the diaspora, but because of the tragedy of his own life. Mistakenly shot down by a New York City Transit policeman on 23 May 1968, when he was a mere thirty-three, his life is emblematic of the precarious position of black men in America and the painful situation of a talented young man dying so young. Observers can only speculate, sadly, about what he might have accomplished if he had somehow escaped the fate assigned to him. In many ways Dumas has become a cultural icon in African American literary circles.

Henry Dumas was born on 20 July 1934 in Sweet Home Arkansas where he spent his early years and was saturated with the ...