July 29, 2011
Sweet Home (Pulaski County) native poet and author Henry Dumas was killed on May 23, 1968, by a New York Transit policeman. This photo was taken only a few days earlier. Details surrounding his death remain controversial; some evidence suggests that it was a case of mistaken identity, while other evidence suggests that Dumas’s behavior led the officer to believe that Dumas was reaching for a weapon. Regardless of the exact circumstances, Dumas’s tragic, early death serves as a reminder of the capricious state of Black men in American society during the 1960s and beyond. Dumas’s poems and short stories were not widely published until after his death.