• NPS Launches Special Resource Study for Julius Rosenwald and Rosenwald Schools

    July 21, 2022

    Last year, the preservation community celebrated a pivotal step towards the further protection of Rosenwald Schools with enactment of the Julius Rosenwald and Rosenwald Schools Study Act (H.R. 3250). The legislation, signed into law in January 2019, authorized a National Park Service (NPS) special resource study (SRS) to evaluate a select list of Rosenwald Schools and sites associated with the life and legacy of American businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald for potential inclusion in the National Park System.

    This significant moment in the ongoing preservation effort of Rosenwald Schools further demonstrated the strong support for protecting these historic places and helped highlight the incredible stories of this chapter of American history. Booker T. Washington of the Tuskegee Institute and Julius Rosenwald, philanthropist and president of Sears, Roebuck, and Company, built state-of-the art schools for Black children across the South—an initiative so transformative that it helped shape the educational and economic futures for an entire generation of children.

    Why Do Old Places Matter Mt. Zion Rosenwald School Exterior

    Between 1917 and 1932, there were nearly 5,000 schoolhouses that were known as the Rosenwald Schools, and research estimates less than 500 of these structures survive, making preservation of the remaining structures essential for continuing to share their legacy of shaping American education.

    The National Trust has worked closely with the Julius Rosenwald and Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park Campaign, National Parks Conservation Association, and other partners as part of a multi-year campaign with the goal of establishing a National Historical Park to celebrate the remarkable legacy of Julius Rosenwald and his partnership with Booker T. Washington to establish Rosenwald Schools throughout the segregated South. The National Trust has a long history working to save Rosenwald Schools, including placing the schools on the 2002 America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places List, funding the preservation of Rosenwald Schools, and submitting testimony to Congress.

    Launching the Special Resource Study Process

    Recently the NPS launched the special resource study (SRS) process, which provides an opportunity for the public to weigh-in on this important step towards the creation of a National Historical Park. As part of this multi-year effort, the NPS launched a website providing background information and a place for the public to learn more about the SRS effort, while giving options for submitting feedback for the ongoing study.

    The National Trust, our partners, and many others supporting Rosenwald Schools joined a series of virtual, public town hall meetings hosted by the NPS in early July. Each session featured presentations by the NPS, followed by a question and answer session where participants inquired about the SRS timeline, approach, and scope of work.

    The first session on July 6 focused on four Illinois sites mentioned in the enacted legislation that are associated with Julius Rosenwald’s life and philanthropy, which was followed by a second virtual meeting on July 7 for a discussion on ten Rosenwald Schools also mentioned in the bill. For those unable to attend the sessions, video recordings prior to the open discussion are available on the NPS website.

    Add Your Voice and Support for Rosenwald Schools

    We hope you will join the National Trust and our partners in this crucial effort to help support future preservation and protection of these sites by advocating for their inclusion in the National Park System. The NPS is accepting comments from the general public about a list of sites they will research and explore in the coming months. Background information on these historic places, along with instructions on how to submit comments before the July 31 deadline, are provided on a NPS portal that hosts a series of links and documents as this work continues.

    For more information on this campaign and many others, subscribe to the National Trust’s government relations newsletter to receive future updates and other opportunities to engage in this work.

  • Julius Rosenwald and Rosenwald Schools Study Act Signed into Law

    January 13, 2021

    On January 13, the president signed into law the Julius Rosenwald and Rosenwald Schools Study Act (H.R. 3250) following the quick passage of the legislation by the House and Senate in late December. The bill, introduced in the House by Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) in the Senate, authorizes a special resources study of the sites associated with the life and legacy of Julius Rosenwald and the Rosenwald Schools. The National Trust has worked closely with the Julius Rosenwald and Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park Campaign, National Parks Conservation Association, and other partners to advance this legislation with the goal of establishing a national historical park to celebrate the remarkable legacy of Julius Rosenwald and his partnership with Booker T. Washington to establish Rosenwald Schools throughout the segregated South.

    The National Trust has a long history working to save Rosenwald Schools, including placing the schools on the 2002 America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places List and submitting testimony to Congress. The Trust will continue our collaborative efforts with partners to make the new National Park Service site a reality.

  • Q & A: Brent Leggs

    October 15, 2020

    The National Trust has a long history working to save Rosenwald Schools, including a place on the 2002 America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places List. In addition to the National Trust’s efforts to raise awareness and provide assistance, grassroots activists, local governments, and churches that own Rosenwald Schools are finding creative new uses for them.

    Recently, Antiques and the Arts conducted a Q&A with Brent Leggs, the executive director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. Leggs explains the importance of Rosenwald Schools, saying “Arguably, the Rosenwald Schools story is equal to Brown vs Board of Education. It’s one of the most important educational stories of Twentieth Century America. It’s also important in today’s time, telling how a multiracial community, including Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald—men from different backgrounds—came together as social justice champions in their fight against the inequitable and poor educational facilities that Black kids and families had to endure across the South.”

    Leggs also said, “The National Trust and National Parks Conservation Association have collaborated on the newly created Julius Rosenwald and Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park Campaign with the goal of establishing a multi-site park in the National Park System telling the story of Julius Rosenwald and Rosenwald Schools. This would be the first of more than 420 National Park Service units to commemorate the life and contributions of a Jewish American.”

    Ask your members of Congress to support the preservation of Rosenwald School here.

    Read the full article in Antiques and the Arts online.

All 3 updates

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