Rosenwald, by Aviva Kempner, is a documentary about how Chicago philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, the son of an immigrant peddler who rose to head Sears, partnered with Booker T. Washington ...
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Rosenwald, by Aviva Kempner, is a documentary about how Chicago philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, the son of an immigrant peddler who rose to head Sears, partnered with Booker T. Washington to build 5,400 Southern schools in African American communities in the early 1900s during the Jim Crow era. Rosenwald also built YMCAs and housing for African Americans to address the pressing needs of the Great Migration. The Rosenwald Fund supported great artists like Marian Anderson, Woody Guthrie, Langston Hughes, Gordon Parks, and Jacob Lawrence. Among those interviewed are civil rights leaders Julian Bond, Ben Jealous and Congressman John Lewis, columnists Eugene Robinson and Clarence Page, Cokie Roberts, Rabbi David Saperstein, Rosenwald school alumni writer Maya Angelou and director George C. Wolfe and Rosenwald relatives.
Find this film and watch it--you'll be very glad you did.
This documentary should be shown on every secondary school and college campus. It is the story of a man who acquired wealth and influence, so it is a motivational story. It is also the story of a man who saw wrongs in our society and chose to stand up and personally do something about them. He used his wealth and influence to make life better for millions of his fellow human beings. They are the very messages that will resonate with young people who are mapping and preparing for their own futures and figuring out where they fit in the world. The narrative of the story is personal as told through the experiences of his family and inspiring as told by individuals such as Maya Angelou. It a spellbinding story that made me want to reach for great heights as I left the theater.
Julius Rosenwald was the son of German Jewish immigrants who settled in Springfield, Illinois. He was apprenticed to family in the garment business in New York before he graduated from high school. From his initial job as a traveling peddler he used his business acumen and organizational skills to build Sears Roebuck into the world's largest retail firm. But business alone was not the purpose of Rosenwald's life. His faith played a role in motivating him to improve the world. He was one of the white philanthropists who played a key role in supporting the achievements of artists, musicians, and writers during the Harlem Renaissance. Through the Rosenwald Fund, he awarded over 1000 fellowships that allowed talented African Americans to achieve their potential. Through his friendship with Booker T. Washington he saw the neglected, in some cases non-existent, state of educational facilities for black children in the south and launched the initiative that resulted in over 5000 Rosenwald Schools throughout the south.
This is not a tedious documentary. It is a life-affirming story that is told with historical accuracy and vintage visuals. If you've never seen a documentary, go see this one. If you've seen other documentaries, see this one to see just how good the film medium can be at telling an inspiring story.
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