Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Schools of Hope: How Julius Rosenwald Helped Change African American Education

Schools of Hope: How Julius Rosenwald Helped Change African American Education by Norman H. Finkelstein

Four paw prints.  In the early 1900s it was very difficult for an African American child to receive a good education in the southern United States.  Actually, it was difficult for African American children to receive any type of education. Booker T. Washington saw the lack of education as a huge problem since the lack of education meant a lack of opportunities.  Mr. Washington worked with older students in advance studies, but there was nothing in place for the youngest of children.  He tried to get people with money, power, and influence to help with this problem without much luck.  But his luck changed when he met Julius Rosenwald.  Julius Rosenwald was a very unlikely friend to the cause of educating African American children in the South.  Julius Rosenwald was a rich Jewish man from Chicago who happened to be the CEO of the Sears Roebuck Company. He was EXTREMELY wealthy, and he believed in the philosophy of "live to give".  He wanted to use his money to help as many people as possible. But he had one important requirement if you wanted his money and help; the person or group requesting help needed to help, too.  If a community wanted a new school, then the community had to help raise money and help build the school.  This became a huge opportunity for poor African American families to give their children the education that they never had.  These schools were built over decades. By the time the last school was built, over 5,000 schools had been built where there were once no opportunities, and ALL of Julius Rosenwald's money was gone.  And that's just what Mr. Rosenwald wanted to happen.  This is a fascinating story because when history is taught in school, teachers barely have enough time to teach basic historical facts like “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, and “why”. It is extremely difficult to get to the “how” in history.  We need more authors and illustrators who take the time to teach us about these important events because if they don’t, we may lose the history that helps to make our history so interesting and wonderful.  To learn more about Julius Rosenwald and his schools visit, http://www.historysouth.org/schoolhistory.html, http://www.searsarchives.com/history/questions/rosenwald.htm, or http://www.savingplaces.org/treasures/rosenwald-schools#.VBh7AKTD-1s.

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