Dunbar opened in 1929 and was named for Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), the first African-American poet to gain worldwide recognition. With the dedication of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in 1930, the Little Rock School District worked within the bounds of legal segregation to create an above average educational facility with a college preparatory and vocational curriculum for Negroes.
For the students and faculty who attended and taught at Dunbar, the school was an opportunity to reach for excellence in education and life, in preparation for a racially equal and integrated society. The project,"The Finest High School for Negro Boys and Girls: Dunbar High School in Little Rock, Arkansas 1929 - 1955", presents the history of the largest, most impressive, and the first accredited public secondary institution for Blacks in Arkansas. The last graduating class of Dunbar High School and Dunbar Junior College was in 1955 and it was converted to a junior high school after the completion of the new Horace Mann High School.
Six city blocks ultimately were combined between Cross and Chester streets, 16th Street and Wright Avenue to form one unified parcel of land that now includes the new Gibbs Elementary School, Dunbar Middle School, the Dunbar Community Center, the Dunbar Community Garden, athletic fields and the Sue Cowan Williams Library.
The National Dunbar Alumni Association (NDAA) of Little Rock, AR, Inc. is a tax-exempt, nonprofit federation of former students, administrators to students, graduates, teachers, and staff of the former Dunbar High School and Junior College of Little Rock, Arkansas. NDAA members are dedicated to perpetuating the "Dunbar Spirit" of excellence in their own lives, the lives of others and preserving Dunbar's history for future generations.