Migration Series will soon be reunited exhibited at MoMA

For the first time since 1994, all sixty panels from Jacob Lawrence’s Migration of the Negro (commonly known as the Migration Series) will be reunited and displayed in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at the Downtown Gallery in New York City. In an exhibition entitled “One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North,” the display will be open to the public from April until September of 2015. In 2016, the panels will go to the Phillips Collection here in Washington, DC to be shown.

These narrative paintings were created during the early 1940s, a time when many African Americans were migrating from the Jim Crow South to the North. Only 23 years old when creating this work of art, Lawrence used resources provided from the Rosenwald Fund and to travel to the South and witness firsthand the segregation and blatant racism in rural communities to serve as his inspiration for the series. Additionally, he addresses the struggles and triumphs of the migration using his personal experiences in the North as a child and young adult.

Although Julius Rosenwald expressed very little interest in art, his wife Adele Rosenwald Levy collected art and was drawn to Lawrence’s work and more than willing to make a contribution. She specifically loved panel 46, the reason why the even-number panels are in MoMA and the odd-number panels are located here in the Phillips Collection. This acquisition by Adele and the Rosenwald fund helped Lawrence to become the major figure in American art that he is still considered to be today.

For more info about the Migration Series, Jacob Lawrence and how to see the panel displays click below to view this article by the New York Times.


Erica Marshall, Winter Intern

60th Anniversary of Marian Anderson’s performance at The Met

Sixty years ago, on January 7th 1955, famed contralto Marian Anderson made history as the first African American to perform at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Anderson’s career was launched in the early 1930s when she travelled to Europe on two Rosenwald grants (you can read about her trip to Europe on a previous blog). Her success in Europe followed her back to America, where Anderson became a national icon. She is perhaps best remembered for her historic 1939 concert in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

You can read more about Marian Anderson’s 1955 Met Performance here.

Marian Anderson, photographed by Gordon Parks in 1943
Photo source: Farm Security Administration via Library of Congress

Anniversary of JR’s death coincides with approval of Michigan Boulevard Garden Apartments renovation

Today marks the 83rd anniversary of Julius Rosenwald’s death. W.E.B. DuBois, co-founder of the NAACP and Rosenwald grant recipient, memorialized Rosenwald in The Crisis magazine by writing, “He was a great man, but he was no mere philanthropist. He was, rather, the subtle, stinging critic of our racial democracy.” Remembered in his own time for his remarkable deeds, Rosenwald’s accomplishments are hardly known today. We’re so excited to be premiering the film on February 25th at the Washington Jewish Film Festival and finally bringing Rosenwald the recognition today he so deserves.

Julius Rosenwald in 1917
Photo credit: Library of Congress, Harris & Ewing Collection

Rosenwald’s name is slowly becoming a household name again. After sitting over a decade in disrepair, the Michigan Boulevard Garden Apartments have finally received a permit to be renovated. Known to its original residents as The Rosenwald Apartments, the restored complex will honor its roots and take the name The Rosenwald Courts. Although this project will take many years to complete, we’re glad that Rosenwald’s name will once again be known in the south side of Chicago. The world needs many more Rosenwalds.

The Michigan Boulevard Garden Apartments in 2007
Photo credit: SilverRaven7 (flickr)

New interviews of The Rosenwald Schools: December 30, 2014

We recently filmed our last interviews for the film, sneaking them in before the end of the year. David Stern, Julius Rosenwald’s great-grandson, and Julian Bond graciously sat for some additional insights. David Stern offered more insight into Rosenwald’s life and career, as well as his great-grandfather’s innovative approach to philanthropy. Civil rights leader Julian Bond contextualized Rosenwald’s involvement in African American issues in the early part of the 20th century and detailed the many ways the Rosenwald Fund supported African Americans.

From left to right: Marian Hunter, Julian Bond, David Stern, Aviva Kempner
Photo credit: The Ciesla Foundation

Marian Sears Hunter, depicted on the left, is doing a tremendous job editing the film.  Held hostage in the editing room for weeks, Hunter is proving once again her skills.  She edited The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg.

We’ve had the pleasure of interviewing over 100 scholars, activists, Rosenwald school alumni and their descendants, and Rosenwald family members for this film. With our final interviews complete, and the production stage of the film over, we can focus all our energy on the final, finalediting the film and getting ready for the premiere on February 25th as part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival. See you there!

The Ciesla Foundation says goodbye to Associate Producer Michael Rose

After doing a great job as researcher and associate producer of the film for the past three years at The Ciesla Foundation, Michael is leaving today to further his education at New York University.  He will be studying Public Administration.  He could write a text working at this 501c3 and will be missed.  As a loyal Chicago White Sox fan, and having attended the University of Chicago, he was well versed in the history of the Windy City and Julius Rosenwald’s contributions.

Michael Rose
Photo credit: The Ciesla Foundation