Julius Rosenwald & Booker T. Washington Build Over 5,000 Schools for Blacks During Jim Crow South

Written by Rewindingblack

Rosenwald Schools received the name from Julius Rosenwald, who was a 20th century philanthropist. Julius Rosenwald was a German-Jewish immigrant’s son and became a clothier by trade, after learning the business from relatives in New York City. His first business went bankrupt; however, another he began in Chicago, Illinois became a leading supplier to Richard Sears’ business. Sears is now a department store still well-known across the United States.

Rosenwald was a hardworking businessman but he was always troubled about children not being able to go to school with white children. Rosenwald often described the school he attended in his youth “as a little school a short distance from my home, walking distance. Beautiful little building. It was a Rosenwald school. It was the only school we had.”

So, Rosenwald became inspired by the works and teachings of equality by Booker T. Washington. He wanted to work with Washington, so they formed together to build over 5,000 schools for black children during the Jim Crow South. The schools when built primarily served black children.

The project was one that was of great importance. Since, it was prohibited for black children to attend the schools with the white children, many black children were not being educated. The late Maya Angelou will also appear in the documentary, she is was one of the younger children who attended a Rosenwald school. Angelou has been noted saying that “she thought her school was grand. It was the Lafayette Country Training School.”  Many of these schools were built in North Carolina, however there were schools all over the country.

Civil rights and education-reform activist Julian Bonds is also a product of a Rosenwald school. He explained the significance of a Jewish man in the middle of the 20th century committing himself so vehemently to the idea that black American children must be educated.

Without the vision of Rosenwald working together with Booker T. Washington little Black children across America may not ever have had the opportunity to sit in a school house with other children, to receive a proper education.


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  • The brilliant partnership between Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald educated hundreds of thousands … but the story isn’t widely known. A new documentary seeks to fix that. If you have Rosenwald School photos, home movie footage or memories, please share them with Longleaf Productions. Details at

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