On August 3, 1907, a brief item in an African American newspaper mentioned the prospect of a literary successor to Paul Laurence Dunbar, who had died the previous year.
Yes, we are expecting the new Paul Laurence Dunbar. Up until this time he has not arrived, or if so his light is yet hid under a bushel. Dunbar will be very difficult to succeed. Where will we find another so well-equipped by nature, so endowed with the temperament, so refined by school and contact?
"The New Paul Dunbar." The Freeman (Indianapolis, Indiana). August 3, 1907. Page 4.
Not long after Paul died, speculation about potential successors began to appear in the press.
Up from North Carolina comes a young Negro poet in whom some critics profess to see a future Paul Laurence Dunbar. He is the son of two old slaves. James Ephriam McGirt is the name of the poet. The poetic sentiment in him is not hampered by ignorance.
"Negro Seeks Laurel. James E. McGirt Would Take Up Dunbar's Lyre." The Washington Bee (Washington, D. C.). March 31, 1906. Page 1.
J. Mordecai Allen, the poet, will have his book out in a few days. It is rumored that it will equal that of Paul Laurence Dunbar.
"News of the Week." The Topeka Plaindealer (Topeka, Kansas). August 10, 1906. Page 5.
Alfred A. Taylor, a letter-carrier and musician of Indianapolis, makes a creditable bid for the mantle of the late Paul Laurence Dunbar. His poems show no small degree of originality and have a swing and rhythm that suggest good things for the future from his pen.
"Ink-Lings of the Ink-Slingers," by Tom Richardson. The Freeman (Indianapolis, Indiana). January 19, 1907. Page 3.
Miss Inez Parker of Rolla, Mo., America's Greatest Negro Poetess, whose merit as a verse writer places her in the same rank with her prototype, the late Paul Laurence Dunbar, the mantle of whose genius she inherits.
Advertisement. St. Louis Palladium (St. Louis, Missouri). March 30, 1907. Page 5.
Paul Laurence Dunbar was undoubtedly the greatest Negro poet. This is universally acknowledged by the best minds of both races. If he could return to earth and read the poetry and prose of the Rev. J. Francis Lee, of Norfolk, Va., he would find them musical, full of learning, taste, study, spontaneity, strong in phraseology, beautiful in imagery and rhyme, excellent in meter, and fire and light burning and sparkling in each line and train of thought as he describes the dialect, moods, and life of the antebellum Negro and sings optimistically today of the progress of the progressive Negro.
"The Coming Negro Poet." The New York Age (New York, New York). September 26, 1907. Page 2.