On December 21, Congress acted to pass the Julius Rosenwald and Rosenwald Schools Study Act, (H.R. 3250 / S. 1863) introduced by Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL). The legislation 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 National Parks Conservation Association, the Julius Rosenwald & Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park Campaign, 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 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, 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. This would also be the first of more than 420 National Park Service units to commemorate the life and contributions of a Jewish American.”