Charlotte Museum Campaigns for Historic Siloam Rosenwald School

Posted March 27th, 2017 by

The Siloam Rosenwald School of Charlotte, North Carolina could have a new home by October.

The Charlotte Museum of History has taken the initiative to restore and relocate the Siloam School. The school had been uninhabited and in a state of disrepair for 50 years. Located in University City, the Siloam School will require approximately $600,000 to restore it for educational purposes and as community gathering place.

Rosenwald Schools emerged throughout the South during the early 20th century to provide schools for African American children. “The Rosenwald Schools were built not only to be an educational resource, but also a community gathering spot,” Charlotte Museum of History President and CEO Kay Peninger said.

October marks the centennial of the Rosenwald Foundation’s incorporation. There used to be a “Rosenwald Day” during the school’s heyday. “It was typically held in March or April. I’d love to find out more about that and maybe have a Rosenwald Day in April just to kind of help with the fundraising… Wouldn’t that be cool to have the building here by 2017?” Peninger said.

The restoration, move, and installation of the school are all contingent upon how quickly funds can be raised. The GoFundMe Page can be found here.

Read the full article here.

Orangeburg Explores Rosenwald’s Impact

Posted March 21st, 2017 by
Pictured from left: With special thanks to Barbara Johnson who attended Great Branch, Gladys Moss of Bowman Rosenwald School, Joseph C. Sanders of the Berkeley Training High School, Delona J. Kindell of Great Branch, Melissa Evans Sherman of Felton Training School, Henry Summers and Elain Summers of Bowman Rosenwald School, and Ellen Zisholts co-president of the Center for Creative Partnerships- Photo by John Mack, T&D

Pictured from left: With special thanks to Barbara Johnson who attended Great Branch, Gladys Moss of Bowman Rosenwald School, Joseph C. Sanders of the Berkeley Training High School, Delona J. Kindell of Great Branch, Melissa Evans Sherman of Felton Training School, Henry Summers and Elain Summers of Bowman Rosenwald School, and Ellen Zisholts co-president of the Center for Creative Partnerships- Photo by John Mack, T&D

On March 16, 2017 Aviva Kempner’s Rosenwald was featured in the Communty Cinema social justice film series, hosted by Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College and the Center for Creative Partnerships.

Julius Rosenwald, a true pioneer in social justice, truly believed in improving the lives of African-American children through education. Rosenwald would build 5,300 schools throughout the Southern United States. From 1912 to 1932, roughly 500 “Rosenwald schools” and auxiliary buildings were built in South Carolina. Twenty-one were constructed in Orangeburg County alone, one of which was the original Felton Training School on the campus of South Carolina State College in 1925.

In 2006, a national orginazation of 10,000 African-American women known as The Links, adopted a program called “Rosenwald Schools”. This was orchestrated by the Orangeburg chapter of The Links with the goal of placing historical markers at all 21 sites in Orangeburg County. Thanks to their efforts, four schools in the county have been able to receive these historical markers.

Along with the construction of the Rosenwald schools, Julius Rosenwald also provided funds to Booker T. Washington to assist in the building of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

“My M.O. is to make films about under-known Jewish heroes,” Aviva Kempner, director of the film, said. “I would say Julius Rosenwald is right there on the top of being the most under-known until the film’s come out.”

Several people that attended the showing were actual students at Rosenwald schools as children and teenagers. Gladys Moss, a 1952 graduate of the Bowman Rosenwald School, attended from first through 11th grades. “I display my diploma proudly,” Moss said. “We had a wonderful school. Taught us a lot.”

Find more on the article here

The Ridgeley Rosenwald School Celebrates its 90th Anniversary (1927 to 2017)

Posted March 20th, 2017 by

Congratulations to the Ridgeley Rosenwald School for their 90th Anniversary Celebration!

The celebration started Sunday, February 28, 2017 at 3:30PM with special guest speaker Ms. Elizabeth Hewlett, Chairman of Prince George’s County Planning Board, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

Elizabeth Hewlett, Chairman of Prince George’s County Planning Board, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

Elizabeth Hewlett, Chairman of Prince George’s County Planning Board, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

Christopher Deutsch (above) the great, great grandson of Julius Rosenwald.

Christopher Deutsch (above) the great, great grandson of Julius Rosenwald.

Ms. Mildred Ridgley who attended the school was in the audience for the celebration. She is featured in the Rosenwald film DVD Bonus Features.

Ms. Mildred Ridgley who attended the school was in the audience for the celebration. She is featured in the Rosenwald film DVD Bonus Features.

Ridgeley Rosenwald School was built in 1927 for African American elementary students.

Ridgeley Rosenwald School was built in 1927 for African American elementary students.

Built with assistance from the Rosenwald fund, the school has been renovated and today it serves as a historic school museum. The program and the school is sponsored by the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority also known as The Deltas; and supported by The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

Black History Month Celebration Held at Pine Grove Rosenwald School

Posted March 20th, 2017 by

In 1923, the Pine Grove School was one of fifteen Rosenwald schools in Richland County, South Carolina. The Pine Grove School is the only original Rosenwald School in the county that still stands today.

Brothers Graeson and Kincaid Cunnings portray former Rosenwald students Jasper and James during the dramatized “Visit with Former Rosenwald Students.” – Photos by Lisa Smarr

Brothers Graeson and Kincaid Cunnings portray former Rosenwald students Jasper and James during the dramatized “Visit with Former Rosenwald Students.” – Photos by Lisa Smarr

In 1912, the Rosenwald Fund contributed money for the building of such schools for African-Americans in the southern United States. Pine Grove closed in 1950 and for decades remained uninhabited and in disrepair. The school would finally be restored in 2004 as the Pine Grove Community Center on 937 Pineywoods Road. In 2009, the center was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Mack Burgess hosts Catfish Stew Tasting. --Photos by Lisa Smarr

Mack Burgess hosts Catfish Stew Tasting. –Photos by Lisa Smarr

Last February in honor of Black History Month, the Pine Grove Community Center was a site for a heritage celebration. Activities included a dramatization and visit with former Rosenwald students; heritage food, games, and crafts including quilt making, butter churning, catfish stew, and hopscotch; and special guest visits from historical figures “Julius Rosenwald” and “Booker T. Washington”

Mr. Booker T. Washington (left), portrayed by Shaban Ghaffur and Mr. Julius Rosenwald, portrayed by Bryan Lee, welcome guests into the Pine Grove School.- Photos by Lisa Smarr

Mr. Booker T. Washington (left), portrayed by Shaban Ghaffur and Mr. Julius Rosenwald, portrayed by Bryan Lee, welcome guests into the Pine Grove School.- Photos by Lisa Smarr

Read full article here.

Plan to Save Historic African-American Rosenwald School Site Calls for Moving it

Posted March 15th, 2017 by

Read more of Mark Price’s article here:

The Charlotte Museum of History, is heading a project intended to save and restore the historic Siloam Rosenwald School. A school built for black children in the 1920s, funded by Julius Rosenwald. The ambitious, $600,000 plan was unveiled last week by preservationists and historians.

A crumbling piece of Charlotte’s African-American history will be transformed into a community attraction. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission

A crumbling piece of Charlotte’s African-American history will be transformed into a community attraction. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission

The nearly century-old building must be moved more than 10 miles south of its original location near UNC Charlotte to the museum’s east Charlotte campus at 3500 Shamrock Drive. There, it will be restored as closely as possible to its original schoolhouse appearance. It will be filled with exhibits on local African-American history and opened to the public for daily tours. The move will happen in the middle of the night to avoid traffic.

The museum intends to raise the money though community donations, including a GoFundMe page. A campaign kick-off has been set for March 25 at a special ticketed event.

Kay Peninger, the head of the museum, realizes it may not be an easy sell to a community with countless social needs. “A community approach built the school and we want a community approach in saving it,” Peninger said. “I think that’s a very meaningful part of the history of the building. It’s a spectacular achievement to think that in the Jim Crow era, when segregation was strong and legally mandated… the community came together for this, blacks and whites, to give money.”

The Siloam School will be the first in the county to be preserved and opened to the public for daily tours. Thousands of people visit the Charlotte Museum of History each year; many of them are children on field trips. Museum officials believe the building and its exhibitions will help provide attention to the region’s often ignored African-American history.

Built in 1921, The Rockwell is Mecklenburg County’s oldest known Rosenwald School. This photo was taken in 1931. HO

Built in 1921, The Rockwell is Mecklenburg County’s oldest known Rosenwald School. This photo was taken in 1931. HO

In years past, the museum focused largely on European migration to the region, aided by the historic Hezekiah Alexander House on the campus grounds. The house was built around 1774.

“We want our history museum to tell as many of the community’s stories as we can,” said museum trustee Mary Newsom. “The Rosenwald story is one of determination, courage and optimism on the part of African American residents, and we hope we can keep it alive for future generations.”

From the GoFundMe page for Siloam School campaign

From the GoFundMe page for Siloam School campaign

From the GoFundMe page for Siloam School campaign

Exterior of the Grier Heights community’s handsome 88-year-old Billingsville School, a historic Rosenwald school fully restored. Diedra Laird dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Northside Museum Explores the History of African-American Education and Rosenwald Schools

Posted March 10th, 2017 by

As part of Pittsylvania County’s 250 Year Anniversary, Northside High School Museum will be exploring the history of black education in the county. It will trace the educational pathway for northern Pittsylvania County black students from 1903 until 1969 and feature an exhibit on Rosenwald Schools.

Documenting the school’s early beginnings also includes photos and information about Northside’s more than 80 feeder schools, one and two-room community schools that offered African-American students an elementary education.
Some of these feeder schools were Rosenwald schools.

Virginia’s very own educator Booker T. Washington came up with the concept of Rosenwald schools and approached philanthropist Julius Rosenwald with the idea.

The Rosenwald school building program provided funds for rural schools on behalf of African-American children in the south between the Civil War and the Civil Rights era. There were possibly 360 Rosenwald schools in Virginia and at least 16 in Pittsylvania County.

The museum is located at Corner Road Baptist Church in the Riceville-Java community. 1444 Riceville Rd, Java, VA 24565.

Google Maps Screenshot

Google Maps Screenshot

On the Road to Tuskegee University

Posted March 9th, 2017 by

Director Aviva Kempner and poet Ethelbert Miller had a wonderful screening of Rosenwald at Tuskegee University on February 23 and 24, where Julius Rosenwald served on the board and was inspired by Booker T. Washington to build the schools. Tuskegee President Brian L. Johnson introduced Kempner and the screening was preceded by a Meet and Greet with the President’s staff. Speaking after the screening with Miller and Kempner were Dana Chandler, the archivist at Tuskegee University and Rosenwald’s great grandson Phil Rome.

Left to Right: Ethelbert Miller, Dana Chandler, Aviva Kempner and  Phil Rome

Left to Right: Ethelbert Miller, Dana Chandler, Aviva Kempner and
Phil Rome

At the Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science, Dr. Carla Jackson Bell, dean of the school, hosted an event for Kempner to present the Rosenwald DVD bonus feature “The Legacy of Black Architects at Tuskegee.” Kempner spoke with architecture students about the unique history of building Tuskegee.

In addition, Miller spoke to two English classes, Shakespeare and World Literature, referencing poet Langston Hughes whose own 1931 tour of colleges in the South inspired this current one. One Tuskegee graduate, Guy Trammell, wrote an enthusiastic response to the showing of the film:
“Again, thanks so much for doing this project, and for bringing the film to Tuskegee. I will be ordering a copy for the youth in our program to see this year and will be spreading the word of the DVD package you mentioned. There are many in and from Tuskegee that would be interested.
By the way, the students sitting behind me, during the film showing, were so excited to see their Tuskegee campus in the film! Those early shots had them whispering to each other, “Look that’s the band! . . . . . Look! There’s _______ Hall!” You really made their day! And mine!”

Tuskegee University is the third stop on the Rosenwald Tour, which was generously funded by the Reva and David Logan Foundation. With more support in the future from funders like the Logan Foundation, the tour can continue to more HBCU’s.

Make your tax-deductible contribution here.

Above: Statue of Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee University

Above: Statue of Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee University