Screening at the 44th Annual Conference on D.C. History November 3, 2017

Posted on November 9th, 2017 by

Julius Rosenwald’s Philanthropy in Washington, D.C.

Philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, who headed Sears over 100 years ago, lived in Chicago but his generosity extended all over the United States, including to Washington, D.C.

In 1911, Rosenwald answered a request by President William Howard Taft to provide the final donation needed to finish the building of the African-American YMCA on 12th Street in D.C., known today as the Thurgood Marshall Center. Tonight’s screening features the bonus feature, “Building the 12th Street YMCA,” which is one of the 39 bonus features on the recently released Rosenwald DVD.

This bonus feature focuses on the construction of the 12th Street Y in Washington, D.C., thanks to fundraising in the African-American community and generous grants from the Rockefeller family and Julius Rosenwald, as well as the Y’s impact on the local community. Professors and students from Howard University, athletes, and artists frequented the 12th Street YMCA. They included poet Langston Hughes, basketball player and coach John Thompson, and musician Duke Ellington.

The Q&A after the screening will feature personal stories about the legacy of the 12th Street YMCA from Charlene Drew Jarvis, daughter of Dr. Charles Drew, and Norris Dodson, former board member of the Thurgood Marshall Center. Dr. Charles Drew and Norris Dodson both played basketball at the 12th Street YMCA as young men. Their stories speak specifically to the values the 12th Street YMCA imparted on the African-American community in Washington, D.C.
The other stirring bonus feature to be shown, “Dr. Charles Drew: His work saved thousands of lives,” focuses on the accomplished Dr. Charles Drew, a physician and medical researcher, who the Rosenwald Fund supported during his last year of medical school. His pioneering work on blood transfusions is still used today. Drew also fought segregationist policies in hospitals and the American Medical Association (AMA). Despite his many accomplishments, Dr. Drew was still subjected to the segregationist policies of the Jim Crow South.
His daughter, Dr. Charlene Drew Jarvis, former DC council woman, reminisces about her father.