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The Vine is the official newsletter of the Dunbar Alumni Federation, published bi-annually, January and July.  Its purpose is to keep open the lines of communications between alumni, friends and supporters. It consists of news releases and upcoming events, informational articles and standard columns. 

To view past issues, please click the links below to view.

2015 Fall/Winter Edition

2015 Spring Edition

2014 Fall/Winter Edition

2014 Spring Edition

Contributions from alumni play an integral part in providing support to our students at Dunbar High School as they pursue their dreams through post secondary education. Please be inspired and encouraged by the words of those alumni who have given their time, their talent and their financial support. The articles below were previously published in the Vine.

If you would like to share your reasons for giving, please forward your story in 300 words or less to Dunbar Alumni Federation, P. O. Box 60714, Washington, D. C. 20039, Attn: I Give Because.  Each Vine edition will feature the story of a long standing and a more recent alumni.  The Vine Committee will select two entries for each edition. The stories will be published along with a photograph. The selected entrants will be notified prior to their story being published.  For additional information, please contact the DAF Office, 202-724-4194


Garnet W. Hammond ’41
with M. Cecile Mitchell

I love the feeling you get when you give. As a young child growing up in a religious, supportive and musical family, my mother taught us seven children (one son and six daughters) to have a positive outlook on life – always give your best and the best comes back to you.  After graduating from Dunbar High School in 1941, I entered the military.  It was during this time, I met Dr Lawrence Graves.  We became friends.

My life has been blessed and I have managed to achieve a measure of success.   Giving has always brought me joy.  Through my friendship with Dr Graves, founder of the Dunbar Alumni Federation (DAF), I became an active alumnus.  From the very beginning, I was supportive of DAF’s cause – to help young people fulfill their purpose.  

GOD gives us talent and you must use it. I saw an opportunity to give. My family taught me to value education. This was a perfect match for me.  Watching these young people achieve their own success and move on to find their purpose in life has been rewarding.   Over the years, I have funded named scholarships not only for my mother, who was a graduate of the old M Street School and in 1917, copy wrote The Dunbar High School March, but also for my sisters.

I truly believe that life is a mirror of the things we are and do.  I want my light to shine and to be an inspiration. Try giving, it feels good!     


Timothy Harris ‘83

Giving, by generic definition, is the free transfer of a possession or of something.  The reasons why people give are unique to that individual.  As such, the reasons why I give are unique to me. 

The reasons why I give to the Dunbar Alumni Federation are four fold. First, I give because it is a blessing to be able to give.  God has provided and continues to provide many blessings to me.  2 Corinthians 9:6-7 states that God loves a cheerful giver. Second, I give because I was once in the shoes of students today.  I remember being a senior with worries about where I would get funding to further my education.   Students should have an opportunity, not worries about funding for post-secondary education.  Contributions made by me, and other alumni, can go a long way in alleviating financial worry.   Third, I give because it feels good to give.   If someone can obtain success with my help, then I can share in their success and the joy that comes with that success.  Putting a smile on someone’s face as a result of my giving will cause a reciprocal smile on my face.  Fourth, I give because I am paying forward gifts I received as a student.  I firmly believe that students who receive gifts now will pay forward to another student later in life. 

In summary, I give because my gifts will become a bridge to success for students and help remove the roadblocks that the lack of money brings.  Thank you Dunbar Alumni Federation for the honor of writing this article.


Faith A. Baker ‘91

I give because I never forget where I came from.  And how could I? Especially when so many caring people I met along my journey, helped shape and mold me to become the person I am. Therefore, giving back comes so very, very easy to me.

Giving allows me to pay my gratitude forward – so someone else may be able to reap the same emotional support and financial benefits that were so graciously bestowed upon me nearly 25 years ago. Despite personal and financial obstacles, the late Dr. Lawrence Graves, Ms. Barbara Graham, the late Mrs. Eunice Jackson and so many other Dunbar Senior High School staff and former alumni, provided guidance and emotional support as I made my way through life’s challenges.

For this I am eternally grateful – and the monetary and volunteer contributions that I am able to offer to a graduating Dunbar SHS student is my way of showing this appreciation. One can only wonder where life would have taken me – if not for the generosity, love, and financial incentives from those who helped me. Now, it is my turn to repay the gratitude. 

Helping and supporting Dunbar SHS students is what everyone should do – We’re all in this together! We’re a family!


Jeanne Craig Sinkford ’49, DDS, PHD 

I give to the Dunbar Alumni Federation (DAF) because I value the quality of education that I received as a student and I care about its future. I give because I want the “Dunbar Experience" to mean to its current students what it means to me and to the members of the Class of 1949!

We continue to count our blessings as we remember the unique academic environment at Dunbar that enriched our lives and prepared us for life's many challenges of both scholarship and citizenship. Our teachers at Dunbar were not only scholars and role models; they instilled in us values of civility, self pride and scholarly pursuits. They also helped us overcome the obstacles that surrounded us for they were living examples of individuals who had achieved their goals in spite of adversities they had encountered.

I give also in honor of members of my family who are alumni of Dunbar: my Mother, Geneva Jefferson Craig ‘24; and sisters: Julia Craig Graves’47 and Janet Craig Archer ‘52.

Lastly, I give because I support the mission of DAF and I believe that gifts to DAF from the Alumni collectively represent appreciation for the past, and hope that the Dunbar legacy will live on in the future of its graduates.


Austine B. Fowler ‘53
DAF Fundraising & Membership Committee

I give because it is expected of me and I dare not do otherwise.  I was mentored by a loving and nurturing grandma who by the time I turned 14 said that it was “time to give back.”  Give back?  Give back what?  My confusion was related to the fact that being as “poor as a church mouse”, what did I have to give?  Grandma, bless her heart, simply said “poor in pocket baby, not in spirit.”  She went on to explain that I had much to be thankful for and to whom much is given, much is expected.  Needless to say, my thoughts related only to the material aspects of life.  I continued to question and she continued to push.  I remember, as if the conversation were yesterday, the story she told of the “talents given” and what was expected of those receiving the talents.  At the time, I didn’t understand that the lessons being taught were biblical (Luke 12:48 and Matthew 25:14-30).  After a lot of questioning and a lot of pushing, I finally got it.

We lived a block away from the old Freedman’s Hospital.  I immediately volunteered to assist on the Children’s Ward and I have been volunteering and working with children ever since.  As I became able, my giving took on not only giving of myself, but also giving of my finances as well.  So my first exposure to giving was the result of one of my many conversations with my wonderful grandma.  My giving of time, talents and finances has continued for over 65 years.  “To whom much is given, much is expected.”  I give because of my upbringing and Christian beliefs; it is expected of me and I dare not do otherwise.   


Derrick Stevenson ‘94
DAF Online Presence Committee, Chair

I give because...well it’s simple…The Brand must be protected! The Paul Laurence Dunbar High School legacy is world renown and deserves to be preserved. However, that doesn't happen on its own. Like Andover, Exeter...Harvard, Yale...it is the alumni that preserve these schools’ legacies and facilitate the advancement of their brand. When a person hears that someone graduated from one of those schools, it is safe to assume he has NO CLUE of who was a member of the faulty or what celebrity was a classmate of the alumnus. The admiring person is only aware of the esteem that school has held, and the standard it represents TODAY. Dunbar HS is no different.

My junior year (1992-93) at Dunbar, the school was awarded the U.S. Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon of Academic Excellence. My senior year (1993-94), I secured $250,000 in scholarship offers. I know that I was both qualified and prepared to compete for those scholarships because of Dunbar’s faculty, the generous support of the Dunbar alumni classes, and the selfless dedication of their proxy, Dr. Lawrence Graves.

Today, the Dunbar Alumni Federation (DAF) picks up where Dr. Graves left off, positively impacting Dunbar students’ lives and championing the school leadership’s vision. So, I plug in to the DAF and contribute whatever resources I have to help make the DAF Mission even more achievable. Time, expertise, relationships…and yes MONEY…can be leveraged to help the current, recent grads, and future students of Dunbar. 

Carrie Thornhill ‘61
DAF Office Manager

To assist Dunbar Alumni Federation (DAF) advance its mission of creating better futures for Dunbar students and graduates, the Dunbar High School leadership has provided an office for DAF operations since 2013. The office is located within the main office section of the school in room 114. Staffed by alumni volunteers, the office is open to alumni and the public, 5 days a week, Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The office is frequently open on weekends by appointment and for DAF meetings and events. DAF has been granted access to the full range of facilities at the state of the art school for the use and benefit of alumni, friends and supporters in compliance with DHS protocols and good principles of coordination. Outlined below is but a sampling of the many and varied functions of the office

In support of scholarships, students, faculty and parent development appreciation, the office staff arranges meetings and takes notes for the College Scholarship Task Force; prepares claim forms and programs for the Scholarship Awards Ceremony; and arranges for students and families to claim scholarships. The office staff process complimentary DAF memberships for graduates; shops and prepares CARE packages for the for returning students participating in the Pizza Party and Panel discussion; and communicates with faculty, scholarship recipients, families and colleges as needed.

In support of educational improvements at Dunbar, office volunteers attend faculty meetings, speak at assemblies and events as requested, offers advice on how to improve implementation of school policies and programs and stays abreast on how Dunbar is faring in the “public square” and makes recommendations for DAF involvement when appropriate.

In support of alumni classes, the office coordinates meetings of Class Leaders, makes arrangements for class reunions in Dunbar facilities; promotes other class events as requested; and provides a wide variety of staff support to the Triennial, luncheons and other fundraising and membership building

In support of the chronicling of the richness of Dunbar’s history and legacy, the office arranges and conducts routine tours of the museum and building, accepts and stores gifts and memorabilia from alumni and outside entities and arranges for related ceremonies.

Finally, the staff assembles and maintains the DAF calendar of events, inventories and sells souvenirs, writes articles for the VINE, periodically represents DAF at community meetings, serves as a repository of information and communications, consult with and support DAF chairs and committees as requested.

If you are interested in helping out, call Office Manager, Carrie Thornhill at 202.724.4194 or email at .