Rosenwald Schools: education, race, history

I’d like to share a piece of history that I learned recently: a Rosenwald School—  “the name informally applied to over five thousand schools, shops, and teachers’ homes in the United States which were built primarily for the education of African-Americans in the early 20th century.”

There’s a lot to love and appreciate here; to name just a few (quotes are from Wikipedia):

  1. A wealthy industrialist pursuing a radically progressive philanthropic agenda
  2. The communities’ support for educating their children
  3. The impact: during the 20th century, “… the Rosenwald program accounts for a sizable portion of the educational gains of rural Southern blacks”
  4. Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington: “Rosenwald endowed Tuskegee so that Washington could spend less time traveling to seek funding and devote more time towards management of the school.”
  5. Efforts continue to preserve the Rosenwald Schools (the pictures on Wikipedia are spectacular).

Some days, it’s tempting to be cynical, to give up because the world seems full of terrible deeds and apathy.  On those days, it’s important to remember that things used to be much, much worse, and ask, “Where would we be–where would I be–if those who came before us had given up?”  It is our turn to do all we can.

[Naturally, Winston Churchill put the sentiment best: “These are not dark days; these are great days – the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.”]


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